We all seek to have a certain level of “control” in our lives. A few of us are control freaks and seek a very high control level. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, having realized what we can and cannot control. While there are also many who feel they have no control yet still desire to control their lives if they could. But the very core of following Jesus is giving up control.
This idea of giving up control needs to be explored a bit. It doesn’t mean that, at proper moments, followers of Jesus do exercise some control – they do. For instance, parents are still expected and even encouraged to direct, instruct, and correct their children. The difference is who is in control of our lives.
The teacher of the Proverbs put it this way, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NLT) Becoming a Christ-follower does not mean we become robots, only saying and doing according to our programming. Neither do we sit and wait until God speaks with loudspeaker clarity and neon signs. Instead, we make plans. We decide a course of action. Perhaps even move in that direction, all the while knowing that God directs our steps. Our plans may change due to a change in desire or because of circumstances, but God is in those changes.
None of us when we were Seniors in high school could have precisely mapped our life’s journey even if we knew with all certainty what career we wanted to pursue. There are always twists and turns and unexpected detours. We see those turns as “luck” or happenstance or as failures. It’s only when we can look back that we see how God directed our steps through all of those twists and turns and unexpected detours.
As a young father, I launched a business and failed miserably. But looking back nearly 40 years later, I see how the lessons from that adventure have born fruit. Even today, I still lean on the real-life lessons for how to analyze and troubleshoot problems that I first developed during that failed adventure. Looking back, I see God directing my steps, even though I didn’t fully understand what God was up to.
For those on the younger side whose life is in front of them – having a plan and some goals is good but know that God will direct your steps. Where you want to go in life now may be far different than where you end up at. Always look to God for your next step. For those in the middle of the journey – maybe things haven’t worked out so well. Maybe they have, but it is not what you expected. It’s in those middle years that we learn just how little we can control things. Rely on God to direct your steps. For those near the end of the journey – there may not be much left to plan, but you have the joy of looking back and seeing God’s hand in your journey. Take the time to enjoy the view and realize that God often used your failures in ways you couldn’t expect.
Whether we are happy and at peace with all of this comes down to the level of control, we are comfortable with. God is in control, whether we admit it or not. He invites us to move according to our plans and desires but also to rely on Him to guide our steps.