Last week while I was waiting in the near interminable line to pick up my daughter from school I was stuck behind a white minivan with the license plate "INKNTRL". I suppose this could mean ink neutral or I, Nick, and Troll but my best guess would of course be "in control". I envy the driver of that minivan because lately "in control" is about the opposite of how I've been feeling.
Right now our economy is in the toilet and as a result of the plummeting housing market (and let's not leave out some personal responsiblity - a victim I am not) my family is faced with the prospect of losing a home we purchased nearly 5 years ago and have been renting out. I could go into detail about this but that's all beside the point. I have wrestled with this issue over and over again in the last weeks and months. I've been trying to figure out how I can change the situation so that it has a happy ending. But the fact is, most of the contributing factors are out of my control. Will the housing market turn? Will the stimulous package pass the Senate and bail us all out? Will I win the lottery, thus saving myself from all financial woes? I have no idea. And I can't influence any of those things.
This makes me feel pretty not in control. Which I can't stand. So here's where we get spritual. As a Christian I believe God is in control. I don't always feel like God is in control, but I still believe it. I don't always feel like He's in control because His way of being in control doesn't generally make sense to me. But since I believe it, I get to act on it even when I can't feel it. This is where things get interesting. Because I believe that God is taking care of me, I can act like everything is going to be fine. The psalmist labeled God as "my shield, my strength, my portion, my deliverer, my shelter, strong tower, my very present help in time of need." My favorite part of this verse is the last; I know that He will not only help me, but that when I am in crisis He is present. God is not a friend who listens with other things on His mind. He is present, here, right now, for me and for you.
I realize all this sounds like a platitude, something to pacify when things are going badly, but it is so much more than that. When I give up the (false and ultimately ridiculous) idea that I am in control of my situation, I release God to work His will in my life and my return on this transaction is peace. One definition of peace is "nothing missing and nothing broken". Things may not go well for me. I might lose my house. My husband might lose his job. Whatever. But my peace, knowing that God is in control, surpasses all my understanding.
One last thought. I have small kids and one thing small kids love to do is help. My three year old wanted to help me carry the baby (in his car seat) so I let her hold on to one side of the handle while I got the other. She truly believed she was helping, and could have done it herself if I'd let her, but of course she wasn't bearing the weight of it at all. God is like this. He bears the weight of our lives, and He lets us help. He even, if we insist, allows us to believe we can do it ourselves.