By Michael E. Brooks
“The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1 NKJV).
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9)
“O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Are you a control freak? Conventional wisdom says that most men tend to be. I would agree with that, but with the added observation that the same thing applies to most women as well.
The truth is that most people would like to determine their actions and situations all of the time. The harsh reality is that no one can do that, and that most of us are truly in control of very few of the circumstances of our lives.
When I first began to travel in other countries to preach the Gospel, I found myself wanting to dictate almost everything that pertained to the work. I wanted to choose the hotels where I stayed, the restaurants in which I ate, the cars and drivers in which I traveled, and the times of departure of each trip, not to mention the schedule and topics of Bible studies and evangelistic meetings.
It was frustrating to me when the local Christians directed the driver to stop without asking me first, or invited other passengers to share our already crowded vehicles without prior consultation, or when they invited other speakers to participate that were not prearranged.
After all, who did they think was paying for this trip? Who was in charge?
With experience and a measure of maturity, I have learned not only to delegate many decisions to others, but also that there are some things that I am not necessarily in charge of. The fact that I initiate or organize a trip and secure the necessary funding does not make it exclusively mine.
Others are involved and are as vital to success as I, or more so.
They are often in a better position to make arrangements than I am, and they don’t really need my help (or my interference). This is not even our work — it belongs to the Lord. We are stewards of his gifts, to use them for his purpose.
Much of our frustration and feeling of helplessness can be overcome by faith. We are not in charge of events on this earth, but we serve the one who is. Speaking of Jesus, the Holy Spirit teaches:
“For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he may have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:16-18).
When confronted with adverse situations, we can react negatively with anger, depression, or a sense of failure. Or, we can respond with faithful patience, relying on God to present us with alternatives which will lead to progress.
Or, it can leave us with courage and strength to survive the difficulties. Often the best approach is not control, but submission — the willingness to “let go, and let God.”