In my last post I mentioned how even in the good times, the unknown that lies ahead can trigger worry and anxiety in my heart and mind. Since moving back to California, I’ve certainly been tested in this area.
How long will be living with my parents? How will my husband’s job work out? When and how will we be able to afford a place of our own? How will all of this affect our decisions about having or adopting any additional children? How should we engage with our local church? And the list goes on.
These kinds of questions about the future produce varying degrees of anxiety for each of us. Sometimes we have some mild care that we can easily lay before our Father and submit to His sovereign will. But other times our anxieties are very sharply realized, and it is in these moments that a root problem begins to manifest itself. Here’s just one example of where my thought process goes from time to time. Maybe you can relate…
But how will all of this work out?? I mean, if things don’t happen in the perfectly planned order that I’ve created in my head, my life will be completely derailed! I will end up unhappy, confused, and directionless. So I think I’ll just sit here, refusing to move onward or upward because I’m “waiting on the Lord” to just give me what I want…hopefully sooner rather than later!
Can you see it? What is my ultimate problem?
Yes, there’s a sinful anxiety and an unwillingness to trust in a completely trustworthy God, but underneath all of that is an insidious and consuming desire for control.
That is my real problem. I am a control freak. I don’t like not knowing what’s ahead and how it will all turn out. I want to strategize and plan and prepare so that I’m not caught off guard by anything, or at the least so that I can mitigate the effects of any painful situations. But you don’t have to live life for very long to realize that even the best laid plans sometimes come to ruin, and that joy can turn to pain in an instant, whether you’re expecting it or not.
These harsh realities and the hazy unknown of the future remind me that I am not in control, as much as I desperately wish I could be. So it makes sense that when this illusion of control is threatened, I panic. I throw a fit. I become stressed, agitated, and disheartened (i.e. worried and anxious) because I am terrified by the possibility that things may not turn out how I want them to.
But thank God He saves us from ourselves! Thank God He doesn’t just pretend to be in control like I do. He IS in control. He has ordained every event from the beginning. He doesn’t burden us with knowing and working out every detail of our lives. He knows that only He has complete wisdom, all the pieces of the puzzle, to orchestrate every event of my life in concert with the lives of everyone else throughout all of human history. He asks us to trust Him, to move past our initial feelings of fear and worry to know that He is truly working ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. He calls us to let go of our illusions of control and joyfully accept everything from His hand, knowing that the good and the bad and the ugly that lie ahead are all designed to make us more like Him for the glory of His name.
So in those fearful moments of worry as we peer into the unknown ahead, we must recognize this very short walk between anxiety and control. We need to stop and ask ourselves, why am I worried and what am I trying to control here? Am I trying to maintain my comforts and lifestyle? Am I clinging to the dreams and goals that I’m convinced will make me happiest? Am I trying futilely to build heaven on earth?
And then we must cast our cares on Him, confessing our prideful propensity to try to wrestle control from God, humbled by the realization that worrying and fearing and controlling is just grasping at the wind, and thankful that He is an omniscient and trustworthy God who holds everything in His capable hands.
The future is not scary because we walk with Him.