I have two sons.
For the most part, they got along pretty well when they were younger (they still do!).
But, like any siblings, they also fought.
Sometimes (rarely) they got into physical fights – mostly wrestling, which seems to be a "boy thing." And sometimes it was verbal sparring. And though I always stopped name-calling, I secretly had to admire their "creativity" in what they'd come up with!
But most of what they fought over was silly…
Like the TV remote control.
Oh, the arguments about what to watch on TV!
And then the ensuing wrangling for the remote.
Sometimes they'd hide it from each other, or toss it across the room and run after it. Sometimes the remote was stuffed into articles of clothing, or thrown into a dirty hamper, where only the brave dared to tread. Sometimes the battle for the remote became secondary to the wrangling…
I'm not sure they ever realized the fact that if things got too heated, the remote was taken away by "She Who Controlled The Television" – and the TV got turned off.
Then they'd argue over whose fault that was!!
*Sidenote: "The Hub" and I avoid these petty quarrels – it's called two televisions, two remotes, and two rooms. ☺
I can't say that I blame them entirely – there is something enticing about controlling the remote control.
Think about it – it's kind of a metaphor for life.
All those buttons…
GUIDE – who wouldn't want a button that showed you all the possible situations in life, and you could pick and choose what you wanted to participate in (or not!) – and you could also observe future events!
INFO – oh yes, wouldn't it be great to get further information on those situations and circumstances?! Like when they're going to *air* and how long they're going to last?! And if they're a rerun or not?
PREVIOUS – this button would allow you to go back to a pleasant or enjoyable episode in your life if you didn't like what the current *channel* was playing.
RECORD – oh, I love this one! You could defer situations until later when you felt more capable of dealing with them. Or, you could experience the same wonderful events over and over again. (You could also *delete* the ones that weren't so enjoyable – make them disappear, like they never, ever happened).
CHANNEL – yup, multiple opportunities to *channel surf* and find just what you're looking for.
VOLUME – wouldn't it be nice to turn down the volume of unpleasantness, and turn up the volume on joy?!
MUTE – this almost needs no explanation – for either people or life in general?!
EXIT – and if everything just felt totally out of control, you could always exit all the noise and hubbub (a more effective tool than the mute button).
My personal favorite?
This button gives a sense of total control over all the other ones, and would allow me to completely tailor-make my life to just the way it suited me.
But there is one button on the remote that might just be more important than all of the others…
This is the button that determines where the power comes from, and how it is formatted. And if it isn't adjusted properly, all you ever see is a blank screen or static.
There's a lesson in that.
I am usually quite critical of *control freaks* – those type-A personalities who always strive to micro-manage everything and everybody in their lives. In my opinion, they are domineering and full of pride.
However, it has taken me quite a good many years to realize that my quieter, subtler insecure worrying and fretting about everything is nothing more than *closet* control.
I have just begun reading a book, called "You Are What You Think," written by David Stoop. I like it, especially because Dr. Stoop is a wonderful Christian man.
In the first chapters, he discusses two ways people have of dealing with a world that feels *out of control* – either by being over controlling or feeling overwhelmed.
There it is.
If the type-A's deal with life by being over controlling, then I have certainly spent most of my life feeling overwhelmed.
In truth, my reaction is just the other side of the control record – our words might be different, but I am playing the same tune as those people I have criticized.
For you see, both reflect a few basic mis-beliefs about the world:
1) The world is out of control
2) We have the capability to control things if we try
3) Controlling life will bring us happiness and peace
This the wrong input, and therefore, my remote control is sadly malfunctioning.
If I read the headlines, or watch any sort of television news program, I am going to be convinced that indeed, the world is out of control. And it is a scary and unsure place, with much to be afraid of.
And therefore, I will be inclined to be consumed by fear.
Which I am, a great deal of the time.
However, I have had a rather startling insight into this whole issue of fear.
Might I share it with you?
The other day I was reading a blog post about temptation.
I got to thinking about the things that have tempted me in the past, and how I've come through those times – sometimes succumbing, mostly resisting.
But at the end of my reading, I sorta patted myself on the back for not really giving in to any current temptations.
And then, the most astonishing thing happened.
The Holy Spirit said a remarkable thing to me:
"Fear is your temptation."
I spoke back to Him:
"How can You say that? Fear is certainly my faith struggle, an enemy stronghold to overcome. But how on earth is it a temptation?"
He spoke again:
"It is a temptation. Because what is fear but a temptation to take control?"
This conversation happened a few days ago, and I am still pondering the implications.
In a staggering realization, I have begun to see that the Spirit spoke strong Truth to me in that moment.
Yes, my worries are all centered on the things that I CANNOT control.
And I am tempted to insert myself into the equation – desperately and anxiously working to fix, manipulate, finagle, change, engineer, wheedle, influence, maneuver – CONTROL – everything and everyone.
When confronted with my woeful inability to do that, I default to my familiar position – I cave in to feeling overwhelmed.
Then I try to control God by playing on His sympathies for me.
"Lord, please change _____________ because it's making me feel so nervous."
Again, there's nothing inherently wrong with bringing the Lord my cares and concerns, and there's nothing wrong in admitting my fears and anxieties.
He wants me to come to Him with it all, fears included.
However, if my prayers are grounded in MY desires, and MY plans, and MY timing – I will be disappointed if God doesn't "perform."
Yes, fear is a temptation to control.
I was explaining this in a conversation with my cousin the other day, and another rather wonderful insight came to mind (thank You again, Holy Spirit!)
I told her something along these lines:
"You know, we're not the only ones to experience this. Think about it. How did the devil tempt Jesus? He tempted Him to take control of His own circumstances, and to try to change them."
I said it without thinking, and then I started thinking.
It's so true.
In the only Biblical account of Jesus being tempted (though I know there were many, many other times), we can see how Satan tempted Jesus to take control:
1. Take control of your physical needs
"And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry." (Matthew 4:2, AMP)
Jesus was hungry.
Did the devil tempt Him with fear that He would starve?
He told Jesus to turn the stones into bread, thus ensuring that He could eat.
"'It has been written, man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'"
My translation: "No, God will take care of My physical needs. He will provide for Me."
2. Take control of your well-being and life
Jesus was human, susceptible to the limits of the human body.
Did the enemy tempt Him with the fear of physical injury or even death?
He told Jesus to throw Himself off of a high place in the temple, and have the angels save Him.
"'On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God.'" (vs. 7)
My translation: "No, God does not have to prove that He watches over Me. Therefore, I will not test Him."
3. Take control of your purpose
Jesus was human, yes, but He was also the Son of God.
Satan must have had an inkling of what Jesus' mission was supposed to be.
Did the enemy tempt Him with the fear that He would never see His own Kingdom?
Did he tempt Him to take an earthly kingdom in hand at this moment, instead of waiting for God's will?
He told Jesus he would give Him the world, all its kingdoms, and their glory and power, if He would worship him.
"'Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.'" (vs. 10)
My translation: "Leave Me. I will worship only God, and gladly give up all other glory and power, to fulfill His purpose for Me."
You know what's most interesting to me?
Jesus is the ONLY person in the world who has ever actually had the ability and the authority to truly take control of anything.
He could make stones into bread.
He could command the angels to rescue Him.
He could rule the kingdoms of the world.
And yet, in a most incredible display of humility and love, He set His authority aside, He put His ability to control these circumstances momentarily into the background, and chose instead to trust God, His Father.
I am quite sure that the devil did not leave Him alone after that.
And perhaps more than any other time, I have a feeling that the enemy's taunts and temptations were strongest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Never before in His earthly walk was Jesus as fear-full as when He agonized in the Garden.
Did Satan come with the same temptations?
To take control of His physical body, to protect it from pain and suffering?
To take control of His very life, and prevent His death by calling on the angels to rescue Him?
To take control of His purpose, to take control of an earthly kingdom, and bypass the reason for the Cross?
Was fear a temptation for our Savior?
I believe we'll never fully understand what was said to Him by the enemy in the Garden. We'll never fully understand the depth of angst and suffering He felt. We'll never fully understand how powerful fear worked in His thoughts and emotions.
Jesus, our High Priest, understands our temptations – even the temptation to fear, and the ensuing temptation to take control.
And yet, though He struggled, He overcame.
We can, too.
By replacing three mis-beliefs with resounding Truth:
1) The world is firmly in God's control
2) We have no capability to control our lives, but God has ordained every day before the creation of the world
3) Trusting God will bring us joy and peace
Yes, to the best of my ability, and in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, I will resist the temptation to fear, and refuse to attempt to take control of my own life.
I will stand firm in my conviction that God is on His throne.
Steady and resolute.
Omniscient and omnipotent.
And I will join with my Savior, Jesus, in uttering this prayer:
"'Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.'" (Luke 22:42, ESV)
Yes, I will bring Him my fears in prayer, but I will yield my will to His ways and His timing.
I will not frantically attempt to wield control in my life.
I will hand Him the remote control.
And yes, I will trust Him.
Are you a *control freak*? In what areas are you most tempted to fear?
God will not permit any troubles
to come upon us,
unless He has a specific plan by which
great blessing can come
out of the difficulty.
If we knew what God knows, we would never complain,
Nor would we be bitter over sorrow or pain.
God reigns in His wisdom up in Heaven, above!
If we knew what God knows, we would rest in His love!
If we knew what God knows, saw the things that He sees,
If we had the insight to explore His decrees,
If God gave permission, our own lives to arrange,
If we knew what God knows, we would not make a change!
If we knew what God knows, as He rules from above,
How God takes our trial to affect those we love,
If we saw His purpose, then our hearts would be still,
If we knew what God knows, we would not fear His will!
If we knew what God knows, how our spirits would sing;
Our prayer would be only a great Thank-offering.
We'd find Him sufficient; we would rest in His Grace;
If we knew what God knows, we would seek the Lord's Face!
"This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.'" (Isaiah 66:1, NLT)
"I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left." (1 Kings 22:19, NIV)
"Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet."
(Psalm 47:1-3, NLT)
"God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne." (Psalm 47:8, ESV)
"Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, 'The LORD reigns!'" (1 Chronicles 16:31, NLT)
"The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:9, ESV)
"Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past." (Psalm 93:2, NLT)
"Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." (Psalm 45:6, NIV)
"The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven." (Psalm 11:2-4, NLT)
"Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands." (Hebrews 8:1, NLT)
"Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)
"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
(Hebrews 4:16, NLT)
"For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens." (Job 28:24, ESV)
"In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears."
(Psalm 18:6, ESV)
"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy."
(Psalm 94:19, NIV)
"I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
The Lord reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."
(Psalm 9:1-10, NIV)
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