But the reality is that certain things are ultimately out of our control.
We can’t control if we will land our dream job, and if we do – we can’t control how our boss treats us, or our co-workers treat us, or whether it will fulfill us as much as we thought it would. We often can’t control what happens to our physiological health. Even with exercise and a great diet, things can take a turn for the worse because of a genetic predisposition, a freak injury, or even simply due to the natural aging process we all face. We can’t control the choices our girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or even children will make in the future. We can love them, advise them, shepherd them, teach them, encourage them, remind them, and even plead with them, but they will invariably do what they want to do – even if their actions harm themselves or others. We can’t even control what is done with our money and property down the road. We could be incredibly hard-working, wise, and investment-savvy, but we could lose it all in a moment with a bad deal or random disaster. Or, it could be stolen or frittered away by those who come after us.
The older I get, the more I realize that control is so elusive. Actually, it’s more than elusive – it’s an illusion. You live enough years, and you totally understand this. And if you don’t, yet, you will. It’s one of the hardest lessons we all have to eventually learn.
With that said, though, those of you who know me know that I am an eternal optimist. You know pessimists by their belief that “if anything can go wrong, it will.” Well, I deeply and truly believe that “if anything can go right, it will.” Seriously. And I know it’s one thing to say that you are an optimist, but another thing to actually walk the walk. I really try to walk it out. And it isn’t swagger, or arrogance, or confidence in myself. Really, it isn’t. I do believe in myself and my abilities, but I also know that with so much out of my control, it can’t solely be up to me. It just can’t. And frankly, I don’t want it to be.
And so my confidence has to be in something outside of myself. And decades ago, I found it in God. The cool thing is, He has never let me down. Sure, I’ve been disappointed, and hurt, and even broken by life and the circumstances that have come my way, but in the big picture, He has worked all of those things out for my good, for my benefit, for my intrinsic or extrinsic gain.
Being into God – and having a personal, living, vibrant relationship with His son Jesus – has shown me over the years that His Word is true. All that I’ve learned from it and put into action has been of great value in my life. It’s provided me with emotional stability, guidance for romantic relationships, wisdom related to work, lessons for living, ways to conquer doubt, reasons for hope, reminders on the brevity of life, peace in the midst of stormy situations, and so much more. And one of the things that has been helping me recently has been God’s ability – through His Word – to allay any fears that sneak their way into my thoughts and emotions about what the future holds. And it’s been really powerful.
My main fear is that at some point, when I am not expecting it…the bottom will fall out. The other shoe will drop. The wind will shift and the house of cards will all come tumbling down. That’s what I worry about. Not always, but definitely sometimes. And when I talk to others, they often echo the same sentiments. They’re concerned that despite their best intentions, efforts, and even prayers, disaster will strike. Suddenly. With their job, their health, their relationships, their family, or their money. At some time or another.
And so we fret. And sometimes freak out.
And scramble to secure ourselves against sudden disaster.
But it’s exhausting. And we’re running themselves ragged. And even when we do all the things we think of doing, we still feel unsettled. Like there is more that should be done, that can be done.
And our lives are filled with anxious thoughts and worried days and sleepless nights. And there is no peace to be found.
There are two verses that I have built my life upon that help me in these moments. And I remember them, and I remind myself of them in my head whenever I start to fret and freak out.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
I fully, completely believe those words – most of the time. And on days that I struggle, I meditate on them, and repeat them to myself, and fight to get them embedded into my heart. They help me to let go. They help me to trust. Just like so much else in the Bible, they aren’t just words on a page, but promises to me. Because God doesn’t want me always spinning, always on edge, just waiting for something to go wrong. He wants me to surrender, and expect for things to go right, and – more importantly – for things to keep going right.
The title of this blog is Childlike Faith because I really believe that it is the answer to so many of our difficult questions. When we were a kid, we believed and trusted and were convinced that life was going to be good to us, that God was going to be good to us. But then hardships and letdowns and so much pain came along, and we lost that innocent, wide-eyed, soft-hearted approach to it all. And He asks us to go back to that mindset. It’s super hard – especially when you haven’t done it a lot – but it does get easier the more you make it your objective, no matter what. I keep doing it, and it’s become who I am – and people know it and I know it and God knows it and I am so thankful. And again, it helps so much.
I refuse to believe that sudden disaster is going to strike my job situation or body or wife or future kids or savings or anything like that. And I refuse to spend my life worrying about and fearing any bad news that might come my way. Instead, I want to remember that truth of those verses: that He is right next to me, He keeps my feet from any traps or trapdoors, and my heart is steadfast because my life is perfectly secure in His hands. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says or does. It doesn’t matter what the future holds. He’s got me. And He is good. I don’t want to be pessimistic, or cynical, or suspicious of His goodness towards me – now or in the future. I just want to trust. I just want to relinquish my desire for control to Him. And I just want to enjoy the peace He willingly provides, if we will let go of what we’re holding onto and take it instead.