I would venture to say that a lot of stress is caused by trying to control things, people, and circumstances that are out of our control. There are few things more stressful than attempting to control what we lack the power to control.
The Root Of Control
Control is a response to whatever you are afraid of. Control is fear management.
If you’re afraid that something is going to happen to you, you can try to control the situation, so that whatever you’re afraid of doesn’t happen.
If you’re afraid that people won’t like you, you can try to control the way people see you, doing the best you can to hide what may cause others to dislike you, while accentuating or exaggerating what makes you more likeable.
Control is the way we serve the god we’re trusting in. When we’re seemingly in control, our god is pleased and we’re happy, but when our attempts at controlling things fall flat, our god’s requirements aren’t met, and we get stressed. If you worship what people think of you, then controlling how you appear to others is your service to your god.
If you find yourself stressed out trying to control something that is uncontrollable, ask yourself what you are afraid of?
What Fear Points To
How does one figure out what god they are trusting in?
Jon Foreman sings in one of his songs that “you can tell what you trust, by the things that you fear”. Your fear reveals where your trust lies.
Using our previous example, if you are afraid of people not liking you, then you are trusting in your ability to be liked.
The reason the gods we put our trust in cause us so much fear and stress is because they can’t be trusted or controlled.
If I don’t believe that the God I profess is trustworthy and in control, I will seek to replace Him with the best god I can come up with to do the job. Usually it’s ourself that becomes the replacement.
I think for most of us, the choice to replace God with ourselves as the object of our trust is not because we actually believe that we are necessarily a good option. It’s more that we believe we are the only option. The accumulated disappointment in our inadequate view of God and our accurate view of fallen people, has forced us to trust in the only thing left: ourselves.
Therein lies the problem and the solution.
I believe that one of the main reasons that most people are trusting in themselves is because they don’t really in their heart of hearts believe that they are loved by God. Brennan Manning said that “you will trust to the degree that you know that you are loved”.
Do you really believe that God loves you? Do you really believe that he is for you and not against you (Rom 8:31)? Do you really believe that God works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28)?
“You’ll trust to the degree that you know that you are loved.”
Some people believe that God loves them but they don’t believe that God is in control. A god who is not in control is a god who cannot be trusted, no matter how loving he may be.
If I don’t really believe that God is in control then I’m left trusting and hoping in my self to control.
It’s stressful because even the strongest, most capable people can’t control everything.
Rest happens when you are free to let go of trying to control what you can’t, because you’re safe in the arms of the God who’s in control of everything, and you know that he’s loving and good.
The more you trust, the less you fear, and the less you feel the need to control things, people, and circumstances.
That’s good news.
“We know and rely on the love God has for us.” (1 John 4:16 NIV)
(Image Credit: The Library of Congress)
I dedicate this video to my down syndrome brother-in-law, Jo-Jo. Never give up on your dreams Jo-Jo.
This is an amazing and inspiring video of how the Dennehy’s gave the gift of ‘family’ to nine children from around the world. Some of the children have no arms. This family is incarnating the adoptive heart of God.
I found this video on ilikegiving.com, which is a great website. There you will find other inspiring videos and some great ideas on how to “live generously”. Check it out.
This last week my family and I were hit by a semi while traveling to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. We were completely stopped, waiting for a break in oncoming traffic, so we could turn left into the parking lot. While we were waiting, a semi truck smashed into the back of our van, whipping our necks back, and smashing out our back window. Aside from some sore necks and backs, everyone seems to be alright.
While I was sitting in the nearby parking lot waiting for the claims guy to come, I started to get afraid. My neck and back were hurting, and it felt eerily similar to how I felt fourteen years ago after a drunk driver hit and flipped a friend of mine’s truck that I was a passenger in.
I started remembering all the hassle of chronic back pain, multiple treatments, and the limited opportunities that injury had brought. My mind began watching it play out again, only this time with a wife and seven kids experiencing the same problems.
As I thought back fourteen years ago, and I began working through my fears, I started to gain some prospective.
I realized that the way I viewed things then, through my nineteen year old eyes, was quite different from how I view things now, through my almost thirty four year old eyes. When that first accident happened, I was single with no kids, no career, and very few life experiences.
I think the biggest difference I noticed, was that back then life moved so much slower, and seemed so much longer.
As I thought about dealing with my back over the last fourteen years and the prospect of future back pain, I began to think that it’s not so bad. And you know why I thought that?
Because life moves so fast now, and seems so much shorter.
In a couple months I’m going to have a teenager. In no time my kids will be driving. In a heartbeat my kids will be married and out of the house. And before I know it, Gina and I will be old and gray.
The truth is, we’ll be home soon.
This life is a vanishing mist. (James 4:14)
And it hit me. I can endure a little pain for a few more decades.
This life isn’t what matters. It’s eternity that counts.
The older I get, the faster time goes. More and more I’m realizing how short this life really is and I’m asking myself the question. What am I doing, investing in, and focusing on that will last for eternity?
How much of my life is spent going after pleasures and rewards that will end in this life?
How much of my life is being spent going after pleasures and rewards that will last forever?
I leave you with a poem that Leonard Ravenhill quoted:
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
When I was a kid, my family and I would have movie nights together. One of the movies I remember watching was Never Cry Wolf. Recently I watched it with my kids and my Dad (my kids didn’t care for it as much as I remember my brother and I did when we saw it twenty some years ago). My dad remembered one part in particular that I, seeing it as a kid, had no recollection of. Seeing it again as an adult, I understood why my dad liked the scene so much. Check it out.
“Boredom, Tyler. Boredom, that’s what’s wrong.
How do you beat boredom, Tyler?
So how do you live an adventurous life?
Get A Bigger Vision
Are you living for something bigger than yourself? There’s nothing more unexciting and boring than living for yourself. Whether your an unapologetic pagan who’s life revolves around yourself, or a professing Christian, sanctimoniously hiding your selfishness behind faithful church attendance, living for yourself is a lame existence. There’s no adventure in living for something so small and impish. Why not turn from yourself and your sin and radically reorient your life around Jesus and his mission.
Live For The Impossible
Think about what you’re living for. Is it possible? Possible is boring. You think the creator became the created, allowed his creation to murder him, and conquered death by rising from the dead so that you could do what’s possible? You’re not called to do what’s possible. God has called you to do what you could never do on your own. The impossible is the natural habitat for the follower of Jesus. Waking every morning with a sense of wonder is essential for an adventurous life. There’s something exciting about standing face to face with an insurmountable obstacle wondering what incredible thing Jesus is going to do to enable you to overcome it. Never settle for the possible.
Embrace Danger And Risk
At what level are you embracing danger and risk in your life? The deception is that by avoiding danger and risk, you’re keeping yourself safe, when in fact you could be opening yourself up to the greatest danger of all: never living. “To live without risk is to risk not living” (Brennan Manning)
Tackle Fear Head On
What’s more fun than overcoming fear by doing what you’re afraid of? Doing what you’re afraid of, on purpose, is one of the best ways to live an adventurous life.
Accept Mystery And The Unknown
Some of the best movies are the ones where you never know what’s going to happen next. Living with a sense of mystery, makes for an exciting adventure. Not knowing how things will turn out or what things will look like adds to the suspense. A predictable life is a boring life.
There’s no adventure in a powerless life. A powerless life is a hopeless life. The possibility of supernatural power is the possibility of adventure. Believing that the God who raised the dead, healed the sick, forgave sins, parted the sea, fed the multitudes, stopped the sun, prophesied the future, walked on water, made animals talk, and sandals never wear out, believing that this God still does miracles today impregnates your life with the possibility of adventure.
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:21) To live without cost is to live without heart. To live without heart is to not live at all. A cross-less “Christianity” is a sham and a bore. Stop hedging your bets. Go all in.
… adventure Tyler… adventure.