Sometimes I lose my mind and begin to think that my main job in life is to manage the affairs around me in such a way that my family and I encounter the fewest problems. I am sorry to admit that attempting to control events, plans and outcomes was an overarching goal of mine for many years.
Keeping the cars working, avoiding accidents, hoping everyone stays healthy, maintaining a secure job, holding off issues with neighbors, pressuring our kids to stay out of trouble, steering clear of people with “issues”, playing a decent round of golf, keeping my boss off my back….if I could just manage all these issues, life would be pretty good.
When I think like this and Friday rolls around, my attitude is sort of….”well I got through that week!”…as though my main job in life was to avoid land mines. Is this the highest we can aspire….to “get through” the week?
Can you relate?
I think this is why I still like mowing and edging the yard so much…I can, more or less, control the outcome. But having this idea as one of our day-to-day approaches to life is simply ridiculous.
Nowhere in scripture does Jesus say “Hey follow me and I’ll show you how to avoid problems and keep everything in order in your life!”
In fact, with Jesus it’s sort of the opposite.
1 Peter 2:21 (NIV) “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (emphasis added)
Mark 8:34-37 (The Message) Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (emphasis added)
Speaking of controlling life events….remember the famous “unexpected” life problem facing the disciples on two occasions in scripture…. to somehow quickly feed several thousand people.
Michael Belk, an award-winning fashion photographer, has explored the modern-day relevance of Jesus in his Journeys with the Messiah collection of fine art photographs. His image of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is shown above.
The story of feeding the 5,000 started as a very serious unplanned problem…..several thousand people wanted to hear Jesus talk but they were all very hungry and there was potential for an unruly mob. Can you feel the pressure mounting? Jesus asks (or sort of demands) that his disciples provide food, on the spot, for ALL these people. Jesus’ request seemed preposterous considering the fact that the disciples had little money and there were so many people that needed to eat. But, as you likely know, God provided a way out and Jesus performed a powerful miracle.
So, this is the point.
We are not meant to focus on or necessarily seek out a calm, orderly, prosperous, safe, problem-free life. Theologian William Shedd is quoted as saying, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” Even when we know living a problem-free life is not possible, it seems that it is still our overarching goal at times for many of us. Don’t waste mental cycles trying to white-knuckle events to turn out the way you want.
Jesus wants us to trust.
Turn to Him, focus on Him, talk to Him, feed on Him, rely on Him, worship Him, abide in Him.
Sure we should make wise decisions when we can, but hyper-focusing on managing daily events so we can “make it through” the week is a joyless, tiring way to live.
Can you let go of your imaginary control over life events for a short while and trust an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Savior? I think you can. I pray you do and I pray I do as well.
Note: View all of the Journeys with the Messiah images at JourneyswiththeMessiah.com