I found myself praying really hard one day. It had been a tough day, to say the least, and I was struggling to find direction. I was feeling like I could no longer do a thing to make life any better. The words that come to mind are alone, distraught, stressed, exasperated, foolish, helpless.
And it all revolved around this false idea that I had some sort of control over where my life was heading.
Hear me out on this: Yes, we all have some form of control over our lives. Yes, we all make decisions that affect the direction and outcome of who we are in the long run. Yes, anyone can choose any path they wish.
But for Christians, like myself, the path we want to choose is the path of righteousness–the path that leads us to God and His will. For anyone that isn’t a Christian, or at least isn’t into the whole “God has a plan for me” concept, this may be a bit harder to understand. After all, if you don’t think that God has a plan for you, how can you possibly consider finding said plan? I believe, however, that God does have a plan. For me, it’s a source of great comfort to know that someone eternal and unchanging has a place for me in His creation, a place that is solely mine.
But finding and following that path is not always an easy process. The control we wish to have over our lives often goes in direct opposition of God’s will, especially if we’re not in tune with what He has in mind.
So, as I was praying, I came to this realization: all the things I thought I had control over were really just stumbling blocks since, by my very nature, my will isn’t God’s will. I am a selfish and fairly unaware individual, even if it only appears to be in small amounts to those around me. I want what’s best for me, even when that’s masked within what’s best for my family or my church or my career path. Instead of wanting what’s best for God’s plan, I’m looking out for earthly things. I’m looking to make ME happy, whether it’s through my own ambition or through bringing comfort to those around me.
And that’s the problem: I’m forgetting God’s will and relying on my own. I’m relying on manpower instead of Godpower. Who’s going to win the tug-of-war in this one? This should be obvious. And even if I “win,” I’m really just leading myself down a path that I shouldn’t be taking.
Step one: realization.
Step two: reaction.
That’s where it gets tough. I’m praying like a mad man here, thinking to myself, “I don’t want to be lost, I don’t want to be selfish, all I want is for God to do the work He feels fit for my life.” But three simple words that need to be said become the hardest words to say:
“I. Give. Up.”
I literally sat there and cried when I realized this. I couldn’t outright say it.
I could say, “I know I need to give up.”
I could say, “I should give up.”
I could say, “God wants me to give up.”
But I couldn’t get the actual words out of my mouth–not even mentally speak them with sincerity. I was literally giving myself a pitiful pep talk: “You can say it. You can let those words out.” But I struggled to give God control in the worst way. How pathetic is that?
Because of this moment of clarity, my goal for the last two months or so has been to truly give up on being an over-ambitious and over-selfish individual bent on making my world better, regardless of what that means of God’s will, and to instead tear down those nasty walls of pride and step out of my little control room and live on God’s terms. It’s not happening in an instant, but it is starting to happen. One small step at a time, I’m learning to walk on the water like Peter. It takes incredible faith, and it takes truly asking God, and not with any ulterior motives, what he wants of you and your life.
The answer, invariably, is something like this: “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” and “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
And, if I’m not mistaken, this was said centuries ago by a man who lived by those very words to the point of death on a cross.
If you’re like me, it’s time to stop living like you’re gaming the stock market or gambling on real estate. It’s time to give up and listen for God. I don’t hear Him like some do, but man, He can push really hard when He wants you to know. Try taking your hands of the steering wheel and see how the blessings flow when God is the driver.