I’ve written a lot about the issue of control on my blog, but I want to explore this topic some more, because I see it as a root of so many of our struggles. I believe that this need we all feel to be in control is the number one thing that separates us from God. Relationships are built on trust, and if we’re constantly trying to take back what He wants to direct in our lives, we’ll never get anywhere with Him. We won’t fully experience His love, His goodness, His heart that provides ultimate security, because we’re too busy grasping for that security elsewhere, in the management of our lives and our future.
We just want to know.
Isn’t that the big question of life? To know why, to know when, to know how, to understand the way things work and how they’ll turn out? Don’t we want freedom from confusion, uncertainty? Wouldn’t the world be wonderful if everything just went according to our plans? If our friend/spouse/parent/child changed the way we wanted them to?
I think what many of us misunderstand is the character of God. This isn’t about some power struggle. He doesn’t want our allegiance because He wants all the control. No—God is after two things in us: our freedom, and our hearts.
From the beginning, we’ve had the freedom of choice. While God knows that if we don’t choose Him we won’t be free, the reason He doesn’t force us to choose rightly is because He also wants our hearts. He wants a relationship built on love and trust, not merely devotion. See, surrender is not surrender if it isn’t chosen. True surrender is exceptionally beautiful and embodies freedom. In the Garden of Eden, the first man and woman had a choice: they could put God’s heart to the test by eating the fruit that would give them a better handle on this life, or they could trust God and walk in freedom and unity with Him, letting Him prove that His heart and His word were good.
We all know what they chose—and we all know the result. Separation. Grasping at control always separates us from God. And unless we let go and trust again, it produces an endless cycle of grasping and clinging, because when we don’t know God’s nearness, we don’t trust His intentions.
The first sin was the desire to take things into our own hands. The first sin not only separated us from God but also stole away the freedom He gifted us with. Sin is not just something that makes God angry or displeased. It is something that robs us of our very identity—to be sons and daughters completely wrapped up in relationship with a totally loving Father. Grasping at control allows access to the enemy. Even before man, we see how this sin separated. Lucifer wanted control, wanted power, wanted to be like God. As a result, he was separated from God forever. It follows that all he wants now is for the same thing to happen to us; this is his revenge. So his number one tactic, from the beginning, has been to get us to question God’s character, God’s goodness and protection in our lives, so that we take control again.
This is why more than anything I want to embrace “deditio”—unconditional surrender. The enemy hates surrender, because it utterly thwarts his plans and removes his access into our lives. Surrender, to me, means that I don’t worry about how things will pan out, about my future, about the possible disasters that could enter my life. It means that I give up who I think I am, the labels, the identities that make me feel secure, make me feel like I contribute something valuable to the world. It means laying aside my rights, my sin, my failures, and my fears to embrace my truest self: being a daughter of God.
It’s all I need to know. Everything else follows.
Let’s not put God’s heart into question anymore. Our grasping for control only ever leads to disappointment and frustration. Unconditional surrender always leads to freedom, always leads back to the beginning, where we walked naked and unashamed in the presence of a perfectly good and perfectly loving Father.