You cannot control other people
King David led grand celebrations upon the return of the ark of the covenant and the Israelites to their inherited land of Jerusalem. He appointed long lists of Levites to play music to the Lord. Everyone wore their finest linens. He had bulls sacrificed and offered other sacrifices as well. He handed out bread and cakes to all the Israelites. This was a big deal! Yet his wife, Michal, watched from a window in disgust (1 Chronicles 15:29). This verse actually ends that chapter. We do not know anything further about her negative feelings, but we can assume that she felt her husband should have been acting differently. You may want to criticize Michal, but take a moment to look in the mirror. Have you ever wanted to control someone else’s behavior? Did you ever think your spouse handled something the wrong way? Should he or she be neater? More thrifty or more generous? In better shape?
Conversely, King David could not control Michal’s reactions either. He sung praises to the Lord regardless of how miserably Michal was acting. As much as you may want to control someone else, you are only in control of your own behavior.
You cannot prevent the unexpected
Sometimes the best-laid plans still produce surprises. Meticulously-planned weddings go to Plan B when it rains. One more baby turns into twins – or triplets! The business you just opened fails due to a global pandemic. The list can go on and on. Job lists many examples of God’s sovereignty from drought to flood and from the creation of to the destruction of nations. God is in control (Job 12:7-25). You simply need to trust the bends in the road as paths toward a better outcome.
You cannot do anything you set your mind to
I know, your mother probably told you that you could. But look at the statistics of how many dancers become Rockettes, or how many football players become NFL stars. Hard work and determination are not all that it takes to accomplish a dream. There are factors outside of your control such as what others have to offer the team or decisions employers make. The promise, though, is that God will see you through according to His plans. Rather than relying on the somewhat false sense of self-esteem from an “I-can-do-anything” attitude, rely instead of the self-esteem you receive from God. He knew you before you were born, He knows the number of hairs on your head, and He knows what your future holds for you (Psalm 139:13-16; Acts 17:26-28). Trust Him, who is all-knowing and loving.
You CAN Control Your Salvation
Jesus gives the parable of the sower to urge you to try to control only what you can control – that is your trust and faith in Him. He explains that some people are like seeds scattered on rocks. They never grow deep roots (a strong faith). Therefore, when things happen that are out of their control (illness or losing a job, for example,) they fall. Equally as devastating are the seeds that fall among the weeds. Weeds are symbolic for worries, fears, and anxieties. These people hear God’s word like those with shallow faith, but they are choked out by those weeds (anxieties.) Those are the people who heard God’s word and thought it sounded like something they could believe in until something difficult begins. Then they lose their faith. Jesus urges us to be like the seeds on good soil. A plant in good soil grows deep roots and has the nutrients it needs to grow despite trials such as drought or heat. Therefore, a true believer will “hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Luke 8:15). In other words, they continue to put their faith in Christ no matter what life throws their way. Daily prayer, fellowship with other believers, worship, and time in His word help us be strong in the Lord. Strong belief such as that is all it takes to secure eternal salvation!
Dear God, Thank You for being the one in control of my life. You have offered us free will, so it is possible that I make decisions that go against Your desires for me. Philippians 3 tells us, though, that in the end Your ultimate plan to bring me into heaven with You is unbreakable. Nothing can separate me from Your promise of salvation for those who believe in Your son, Christ Jesus. Whatever comes my way here on earth, I know that You go with me. You guide me and protect me. Help me to rest in that peace rather than be consumed and destroyed by anxiety like the seeds scattered in the weeds. Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your comforting presence and guide me in my paths.
In Jesus’ name,