"The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:8
“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”
Psalm 94:19 (KJV)
“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”
Psalm 94:19 (NASB)
Life is filled with the unexpected. As much as people want to have control over their lives and the way things turn out, the fact is that there’s very little control to be had. We grow old, we get sick, we watch as our family and friends pass away, we experience great joy and then great loss, and eventually, death comes for us too. And though we may want to dictate to God how everything is going to play out, the fact is, we don’t get to. Loss often interrupts our lives at the most inopportune times. Many times, the mountaintop experiences of our lives are surrounded with valleys. And through it all, we’re about as in control as the captain of the Titanic as he watched the ship slowly descend into the icy depths.
When I was in college, I got into a car accident that left the car I was driving upside-down and in the middle of the median. I had been distracted for most of the time that I had been driving. I was checking my phone, taking out CDs and putting in new ones, etc. I remember thinking to myself, “For the first time on this trip, I’m really paying attention and in control.” Almost instantly, I lost control of the vehicle as I hydroplaned, spinning in circles on the highway until the car hit the grass. I’ll never forget that moment. Through that experience, God revealed to me an important lesson, we’re never really in control. It doesn’t matter how focused we are or how firm a grip we may have on the wheel of life; we’re always just an instant away from losing control.
This might seem like a depressing or even paralyzing thought but it isn’t. It’s incredibly liberating. When we come to the realization that we’re not in control, we can finally let go of the wheel and allow God to direct our lives. We needn’t stress ourselves out by asking “‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?'” (Matthew 6:31). Once we submit to God’s will for us, we can find true peace and rest in Him. We can even experience joy and delight in the midst of the “multitude of [our] thoughts.” But to experience it, we must let go of the wheel. We must be willing to accept the bad along with the good, in faith. We must keep our minds set on things above, even while the things on this world threaten to tear us apart (see Acts 7:54-60). We must remember that God “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We must rest in his promises by abiding in the True Vine. If we live this way, then like the martyrs of old, we’ll be able to face any situation with boldness and faith.
John Wesley tells a story in his journal of his experiences crossing the Atlantic Ocean. As they made their way, a vicious storm arose and threatened to sink the ship. As he and his fellow Englishmen rushed around, panicking, he noticed a group of German Christians. Here’s what he writes about them:
In the midst of the psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main-sail in pieces, covered the ship, and poured in between the decks, as if the great deep had already swallowed us up. A terrible screaming began among the English. The Germans calmly sung on. I asked one of them afterwards, “Was you not afraid?” He answered, “I thank God, no.” I asked, “But were not your women and children afraid?” He replied, mildly, “No; our women and children are not afraid to die.” From them I went to their crying, trembling neighbours, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial, between him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not.
May we always remember the One who truly has control. And may we lose the control that we think we have.