by Candace Cortez
Most mornings, my routine includes sitting and reading scripture, praying, listening to worship music, and making lists to organize my thoughts for the day. Literally, the simple act of writing my thoughts and tasks down allows me to relax about some of the things in my head. After I write this list, I often read the news and try to get updated on what’s happening in the world. This next habit, if I let it, will literally try to snatch away the peace gained by mediation and organization. It is often a highlighted reminder that I am not in control.
We are packing for a vacation, trying to soak up the last days of summer. In the process, I do everything I can to prepare for what could happen, and what I would need to still enjoy my time and provide for my family. I pack extra socks, in case for whatever reason we lose, or damage the ones that are appropriate for the number of days we will be gone. I bring snacks, things to entertain on the ride, and as many phone chargers as I can get my hands on. I screenshot the directions to our location in case my plethora of chargers bail out on me. We even have a basic first aid kit. But it never fails that when we arrive at the destination, something unexpected arises, and we need something we don’t have! It’s kind of frustrating. This is a reminder that I am not in control!
We have two incredible children, who are doing pretty well in school. We are doing what we can to raise them with care and help them love others through their words and actions. We have taught them about hard work and how to wash their hands. We are teaching them the importance of connection with God and how to hear His voice. We are forcing them to eat a certain ratio of vegetables each meal and are working to help them understand why. But then, I still get phone calls from family or from their school, letting me know that something unexpected happened. No matter how much parenting I put in, I am not in control.
I could go on with examples for days about the moments and ways I am not in control of all of the things that happen in our lives. I have experienced this position of being out of control result in a few different responses: anxiety, working excessively to regain control or peace. One of the ways that I can respond in peace to the unexpected things that happen in life is to remember that I may not be in control, but God is always in control.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Just because something is unexpected to me, does not mean it’s out of God’s hands! Just because it’s out of my hands, doesn’t mean it’s out of control. Sometimes the peace we need in our hearts begins BEFORE the crisis. You do not lock the doors and set an alarm while thieves are in your house. You guard your house before the invasion happens. Before you begin to lose your peace to the whirlwind of impossible or out of control, begin to protect your heart with God-given peace. This peace is beyond understanding. It can literally be confusing to others around you how calm you can be in times of chaos or emergency or the unexpected. It may even be confusing to you!
Today, I admit, that I am out of control. But I stand firm on the fact that God has all power, and has my life in His hands. I have the ability to prepare, but my preparations do not guarantee an easy future. We all have some work to do in preparing the quality of our hearts. We can acquire peace that lasts through the trials. We do know that trials will come. Do you know how your heart will be when those trials arrive? I pray for peace, not for control, because He is already taking care of that.