MY DAUGHTER WANTED HELP with ninth-grade algebra. But I just didn’t feel like reviewing all that with her. Can’t she do it herself this time? I thought.
Although I was tempted to feel frustrated with this “interruption” to my day, God gently interrupted me with a question: “Am I in control, or are you in control right now?”
A dagger pierced my heart as I realized I had put myself in His place again. I prayed silently, “Yes, Lord, OK, I want You to be in control. My time is Yours.”
Instantly my peace came back, and I found I was able to sit and do algebra without fretting. I felt relieved that battle was over, but little did I know that the war was not won yet.
Later that day we were packing for a trip. Time was of the essence. In the process of packing, one daughter tried on multiple Sabbath outfits, wanting me to help her decide which one to wear on the trip. Knowing this would take time, I felt impatience spurting up in my heart. This could make us late, I thought. Before I knew it, I had spoken sharply, telling her what time we had to leave and hoping that would get her to move fast.
Suddenly God called to my heart again: “Were you just in control there or was I?”
“Oh no,” I moaned, realizing that I had just taken the reins again, slipping them out of God’s hands. God had more than 1,000 solutions to my problem. Why had I not asked for His help? I felt awful and went to apologize to my daughter. “Lord, please don’t let that happen again,” I murmured.
The Oxford Dictionary says control is “to determine the behavior or supervise the running of, be in charge of, run, be in control of, manage, direct, administer, head, preside over, have authority over, supervise, superintend, oversee, guide, steer.” I don’t know about you, but I just love to be in control, to manage and direct things. It’s so easy to jump in and do what I think needs to be done so things can turn out “right.”
“AT YOUR WORD”
In Luke 5 we read about when the disciples went out to catch some fish, but caught nothing at all. Jesus told Peter, a seasoned fisherman, to launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch. Somehow his thoughts just tumbled out. “Master, we have toiled all night and caught noth-ing.” But then Peter’s heartfelt awe for Jesus took over, and amazingly he obeyed, even though it did not make a bit of sense to him. Complying, he said the words, “Nevertheless at Your word [because you say so] I will let down the net” (verse 5).
Although Jesus told him to do something that seemed unthinkable and possibly embarrassing, Peter, not leaning on self, obeyed and let down the net. Respecting someone means we fear to cross them. Loving means we want to please them. Peter loved, respected, and trusted his Lord enough to let his agenda go and pick up God’s agenda. It was counterintuitive, but it was God’s way.
Sometimes God’s way is counterintuitive. On Mount Carmel, Elijah the prophet poured water over the sacrifice and altar not once or twice but three times, since God wanted to make it really obvious that there was no trickery or foul play. The fire would be supernatural, and it would end up burning even the water in the trench. “At Your word,” Peter said. “At Your word,” Elijah said (1 Kings 18:36). And in both cases God worked a mighty miracle in response.
But how do we let go of control and pick up God’s agenda? Isn’t my life, my day, my schedule, my culture, my way of doing things, of utmost importance? What about God’s day, God’s schedule, God’s way of doing things? What if His ideas and mine don’t match up? After my devotional time ends, is His plan for my day on the front burner or the back burner?
Certainly, a great way we give God the reins is through prayer and surrender. When I graduated from a university with my teaching qualification, I did not receive a job offer to teach at a local Adventist school, or any school. Days later I got a phone call out of the blue from Korea. Someone was asking me to come and teach English there in an Adventist language school, but I was not really interested. I had been overseas already and wanted to be home. So I told them I’d pray about it.
True to my word, I did pray over a period of 24 hours. Imagine how surprised I was when God’s voice came to me on my knees by my bed, distinctly telling me to go to Korea. Having given God control of my life, I agreed to go. Any other plans I had were put on hold.
THE REWARD OF SURRENDER
Back to Peter. Having obeyed, he now saw the picture crystal clear: God was in charge, and Peter was not. And a huge miracle happened. “And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking” (Luke 5:6). When he saw all those fish, he was humbled and oh, so grateful. God had supplied his need extravagantly, as only God can.
God has all the resources in the world at His disposal! There is no shortage. Now the disciples were in awe, and with this experience fresh in their thoughts, they were more than willing to answer Jesus’ call and “catch men.” We see Peter fall down at Jesus’ knees and worship. This story makes me want to worship too.
The devil constantly tempts me to think that happiness is having my own way, living out at least a few of my own fleshly desires and urges. He tells me that if I’m not in control, I won’t be happy. But God invites me to take a big step of faith today. Will I truly be God’s and God’s alone today? Will I be quiet so the Holy Spirit can talk to me? The lower we are in our own estimation, the bigger God can be. Will I be small and let God be big?
It’s much more exciting (even if at first, unnatural) to let God be in control, as anything can happen. But there’s joy there. “You will show me the path of life; in Your Presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). This is what I want, perfectly described in the blog “Laine’s Letters”: “His pace, His pleasure, His power, His patience, His perfect love, His passion, His priorities, His purpose, His praise, His peace, all, all, all in His presence.”*
Many times God’s way is the way of logic and reason, but not always. So I am learning to ask Him what to do when situations come up. As I let down my net when and where He says, the miracles will happen. Lord, I give my few feeble resources to you. You take control. Show me what You want me to do with them. At Your word I will let down my net. Use this net to show Your greatness.