The Fear of Relinquishing Control
I worry a lot.
I worry too much in fact. I worry about big things and small things. I worry about things that affect me and I worry about other people. I understand worrying is natural but it gets me nowhere except filling my soul with anxiety that just compounds over time.
I have heard over the years about letting go. “Let go, Let God” is a popular phrase. I know what it means but I don’t really know how to do it. I have given my worries over to God countless times but they always come back. The reality is I worry a lot about a lot I cannot control. Hence the phrase, “Let Go, Let God.” God is ultimately in control so why worry?
This is a partial list of what tends to raise my blood pressure:
• Finding fulltime work
• Are my investments keeping me solvent?
• My son's questionable decisions and interests
• My wife working herself into exhaustion every day
• My health, my wife’s health
• Getting older
None of these I can control. Some of these don’t even have anything to do with my life. The way others close to me choose to live their life may be destructive but it is still something I cannot control. It’s their life, not mine.
I have prayed about and given over these and other fears and worries to God countless times. Countless. Still, I worry. Still I find myself with a background of restlessness when I am in for the night, it’s raining outside and cozy inside. A bite of angst resides within me. Don’t misunderstand, the aforementioned list is not always running through my mind. There are other worries I have and certain triggers that set those mentioned above and others in motion. And sometimes I do find moments of solace and peace. Just not all the time.
Mark 4:35-41 recounts the time when Jesus traveled by boat across the Sea of Galilee with the 12 and a fierce storm bubbled up. Jesus remained asleep as waves crashed into the boat filling it up. The disciples frantically woke Jesus saying, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and immediately all was still.
Jesus asked them “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?”
I realized something. I know I can’t control that which worries me. The reality is what I am trying to control is actually controlling me! I know about letting go and I have asked a number of people how to do it. I also know I shouldn’t worry. And I know I want God to take all of my cares and melt my anxieties away. Then why don’t I do it?
I may be afraid of what I can’t control but even more than that I think I may be afraid to let God take control.
It’s not that I don’t want Him to. I very much want Him to. I would love to not have to worry about anything anymore and walk through life with joy and hope regardless of my storms. By letting God take over I believe all that can happen. But I worry about what that means.
It may mean I never will find fulltime work again. My health may decline. My son may adopt even more radicle ideas. I may get a call believing the caller ID is my wife but it’s actually her work letting me know she’s in the hospital.
By concentrating on all of these seemingly appropriate “worries” I falsely believe I can control them. But I can’t, which I already know, which is why I am filled with anxiety. How many times have I, after a period of endless worrying, said “I worried about all that for nothing!” Countless. Ironically, I can’t recall anything specific where when I did worry about something and the end result I worried about happened I felt I should have worried more. However much I worried had no effect on the outcome.
So if worrying solves nothing and I cannot control the outcome why not let God, who can control the outcome, take over? Simple. The outcome I want to see may not be the outcome. Worrying gives me two conclusions: either I regret worrying so much or I can say, "I knew it." By not worrying I risk the "chance" that God may not show up in that the desired outcome, my way, did not happen. But my ways are not His ways neither are my thoughts His thoughts. I am not in control.
God is in Control. Thank God for that.
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