Just recently my dad called to tell me that our oldest, Brewer, had taken him to church and had spent the better half of the day with him. Receiving that phone call from “Papa” made my day. NO one (meaning me) called and asked Brewer to do this act of love and kindness. He did it on his own which I love. It wasn’t at all something I asked of him.
In fact, that very day our pastor, Dick Lincoln, delivered a message regarding “Control!” I loved the message so much that I think I could listen to it several times. The meat of his message was that our “influence” is much greater and more powerful than the “control” that we exhibit to others. Control is something he talked about struggling with himself, but over the years he came to realize that “less is more!” Meaning giving up control and not trying to manipulate situations but using assertiveness and influence was a much healthier approach. It produced a better outcome than aggression and control did.
I have learned to call assertiveness and influence, “living out loud!” Simply meaning….people watch and mirror much more of what you do than what you say.
I guess if I had to preach the same message it would be entitled, “Dropping your hands!” Those were the most powerful words spoken to me in my 40’s. It basically means the same thing as valuing influence and leaving control in the rear view mirror. Letting God be God to everyone and realizing I was not appointed as the Junior Holy Spirit to anyone. This was a transition for me as a parent and wife…..and I struggled with it.
From working hard in my early thirties to “control Type 1 diabetes” and blood sugars, to disciplining our three kids, to homeschooling our two sons, to trying to teach our daughter to manage her weight, since she is my exact height, 5′ 1 1/2″, there were times when…..I worked hard at controlling different situations and outcomes….I found myself doing the same thing when I worked in business with Bill. Taking a step back several years ago…I realized why I was so frustrated and worn out….I was trying to control…..people and outcomes……NOT…. A BIG NOT!! When I was encouraged to adopt the approach of “Dropping my hands,” it was probably some of the best advice I had ever been given or had taken.
I basically bowed out of trying to be God in other people’s lives or orchestrate events. I realized “nothing changes until you do!” Realizing I needed to turn the “reins” over to God with my prayers and my actions was a very freeing thing. I had to embrace and trust a Holy God with His Word and His promises! I turned the focus away from family, in terms of their actions, and focused on my behavior, reactions, and thoughts…which are things I could control with God’s direction and help.
When I took this advice, not only did it free me mentally and emotionally….it gave me much more time…to focus on God and what He had planned for me. It made me very aware of His holiness and work in not just my life but in others as well. I realized that if I kept my eyes on Him and what His plans were for me…there was virtually no time left to fret over what someone else was doing or not doing.
I realized HE, God, had a full plate for me! Even though at mid-life I had the experience and the rear view vision to help my kids with some roads I had traveled…I started refraining from speaking my mind unless they came to me and asked! Yes…even if I saw the end result and I didn’t like it…….”falling and getting hurt” can be a good thing. The personal pain brought on by our personal mistakes can be the very best teacher. First and foremost, you cannot look around and blame anyone but yourself for the fall.
Second, I have realized that in order for personal behavior to change, behavior that is not good or beneficial, it usually only comes with GREAT PERSONAL PAIN. Of course for me to implement the “refrain in my family,” I had to grab myself, walk out of the room, walk away, press my lips together, whatever it took. One time I took a trip! LOL…yes, I had to remove myself totally…I didn’t have enough self-control to watch without saying something so I had to “go!”
I love the scripture found in Numbers when the Lord was speaking to Moses in Numbers 11:23, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” The Lord was speaking to Moses about providing meat for the Israelites while they were in the desert…Moses was leading thousands of people who, over and over again, found fault and were grumbling and complaining….Moses was feeling the pressure of leadership….but wanted to obey God and trust Him…God had graciously supplied “manna” for food to all the people, but of course…..they tired of the provision and demanded meat. Numbers 11:4, “The rabble with them began to crave other food and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost…” And meat (quail) is what God provided…
What I love about reading all of the book of Numbers is that Moses looked to God….Moses was the leader of many. Sometimes they would listen to Moses and sometimes they did not… Moses kept his eyes on the Lord…. he prayed and he obeyed…there were times he made mistakes but over all, Moses sought the Lord. The Lord did not hold Moses responsible when people did not follow his leadership….He held Moses responsible for obeying HIM!
The whole story of Moses has so many lessons for anyone who reads it and studies it. God wants us to obey Him. He may tell us to give instructions or advice to others. He may tell us to “drop our hands” and live in obedience. The one thing He teaches for sure is that we are all “accountable for our thoughts and actions” before God. He holds us responsible for what we can control which is ourselves. HE also teaches and demonstrates HIS ARMS are NOT TOO SHORT. I urge you to visit with the Lord on the issue of Control………realizing two things about Control……First, God is in control…nothing takes Him by surprise.
Second, we are responsible for our individual actions and thoughts…even as parents we are responsible. While our kids are young, we care for, teach and lead by example with our own actions. As our kids grow up, they become responsible for their thoughts and actions. We find in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”……This scripture alone….is enough for me to “drop my hands” when trying to control others and only focus on what God is telling me.
I have come to realize…..if I focus on what God is telling me…that is enough…HIS arms are LONG and FAR Reaching. HE does a much better job than me! His power is made perfect in my weakness!