I get excited every time I go on a spiritual retreat, because God always tells me something. The message is often a surprise, sometimes painful, and always requires work on my part.
But it’s so precious to experience personal communication with Him, to sense He knows and cares about my needs. He understands.
At previous retreats, there’s been one clear moment when my spirit “gets” what God wants to say. This time it came in hints and clues, pieces. A trail to follow. It started with my friend Mary Waind’s post at Beech Croft Tales, before I even zipped my suitcase.
As I mulled over this matter of releasing control, I realized when I refuse to let go I’m surrendering to fear. I’m still not in control, and instead of giving the situation over to the One who wants to give me His best, I’m actually letting the enemy, the one who wants me to be afraid, take over. (read the full post here)
I thought about Mary’s words all the way to the retreat. And should not have been surprised to discover this was one of the recurring themes of the weekend.
Control, and the need to quit grasping for it. The need to trust God, who really is in control and is quite capable, thank you very much. To take down the walls we put up that only block what God wants to release.
After an enlightening weekend, the theme’s next instalment came from Ginny Jaques’ Something About the Joy:
I want the peace that comes from knowing God is sovereign, even though I’m not in control. (read the full post here)
Then what should appear in my in-box but the current issue of Sheila Wray Gregoire’s Reality Check newsletter?
Sheila says most times we’re in full control-freak mode it’s because we’re afraid—and she challenges those in the fallout zone to “bridge the sanity gap” by understanding the root cause and by helping, instead of pulling away. The article is meant to help husbands understand their wives, but it got me thinking.
I’ve been taking note of these nudges to quit trying to control the universe, and making some subtle progress. But I also need to cut some slack to the controllers around me. Not to start doing everything their way, but to stop, pray and wonder what’s really behind their actions. And to respond in light of that.
How can I respond in a way that doesn’t compromise me but doesn’t threaten the other person? Is it a minor enough issue for me that we can simply do it her way? Can I at least remember that in protecting herself she’s not personally attacking me?
There are plenty of times when we try to control out of fear—fear that we’ll lose something precious, that we’ll look stupid or be hurt.
God understands our weaknesses and our fears, and we can trust that no matter what, He will be there. He will be enough. We can encourage one another to let down those walls.
There are other control battles that come from our own selfishness, or from the belief that if we don’t do it ourselves, it won’t be done right…. He wants to pry our fingers loose from these walls too.
For me, control links with resisting, holding back, protecting self and trying to force others. It’s trying to be author, puppet-master and stage-manager. Quite the opposite of trusting God’s sovereign authority.
What I’m hearing is that the call is to trust. To remember God’s sovereign power, to go out through my self-built walls to where Jesus wants to use me.
The result is release.
Any more words to share on the subject?
Oh, and here’s a song that echoes the whole “letting go of control” idea: Olivia Newton-John‘s “Have You Never Been Mellow“.