Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit detached from my faith. Sure, I go to church, pray before meals, toss up little “popcorn” prayers throughout my days. But, I’m not involved in any kind of Bible study. I’m not serving in His Name anywhere. I’m not reading any of my dozen or more devotional books that I have on my bookshelves. I’m not spending any kind of quality time praying and listening for answers. I’m not being still….at all.
One night, recently, I was praying that God would give me the self-discipline I needed to get back into His Word and take time to pray more often instead of filling my days with just “stuff.” I went to bed that night telling God that I needed Him to get me back on track and into more of a routine to make sure that I’m taking the time to slow down and read the Bible and listen to what He has for me. At the time, I thought that was a pretty good prayer. I thought that was what I needed. I went to bed that night determined to “try harder” the next day to spend time with God.
I woke up the next day and got the kids off to school. Before starting the rest of my day, I quickly grabbed my copy of Jesus Calling. If you have this devotional, you know how absolutely amazing it is. If you aren’t familiar with it, I highly recommend picking up a copy. It’s a quick read but each short devotional is filled with amazing insight and guidance. On this particular morning, God did not disappoint. I started reading the following entry:
Let Me infuse My peace into your innermost being. As you sit quietly in the Light of My Presence, you can sense Peace growing within you. This is not something you accomplish through self-discipline and willpower; it is opening yourself to receive My blessing. (emphasis added)
WHOA! God just used my exact same words! He heard my prayer and gave me an immediate answer. Even though I know that God answers prayers all the time, I was taken aback. He’s answered many of mine over the course of my lifetime. But, this one felt like I was having a dialog with Him. I asked him to help me be more self-disciplined and He answered right away. Self-discipline was the last thing I needed. What I needed was to just sit quietly with Him and open my heart to receive Him and all His blessings.
I decided to dig a little deeper into self-discipline and willpower.
Willpower is defined as; self-control: the trait of resolutely controlling your own behavior.
Self-discipline is defined as; training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.
The common denominator in these two definitions is control of oneself. This is the exact opposite of what having a relationship with Jesus Christ is all about. Having a relationship with our Savior is about releasing that control. It’s about allowing God to control our steps and guide us in His ways. This is something that is very hard to do, especially in our culture and society. We live in a world where people seek control in all they do. There are even those who panic when they feel they don’t have control. Many of us have come across what is commonly known as a ”control freak.” For many of us, that label hits pretty close to home. We have remote controls for TV’s, toys, radios and cars! That’s what we are programmed to do….control things. So, this devotional was more of a challenge than I originally had thought. Give up control? This was not going to be an easy task.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are at least a dozen Bible passages that talk about having self-control. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about here is not just a one time thing. It is something that we need to do everyday…all day. When we wake…hand the day over to God’s will. When we face trials….ask God for His guidance. When we are in conversations…ask God to bless our speech and those that are listening. When we are angry that our children have disobeyed us once again….stop, breathe and ask for God’s mercy and grace to flow through us to them (that’s a hard one for me sometimes). When we have an opportunity to be Jesus for someone…ask God to give us the words THEY need to hear and not just what WE want to say. Giving up control isn’t going to be easy. Shoot, I’m actually nervous about what that’s going to mean in my life. But, the devotional continues:
You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work. You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.
He’s right, you know. He has accomplished some of His best work in my hardest times. Without those tough times, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am today physically, emotionally and most of all, spiritually. Without His work in my life, I could never grow in my relationship with Him. A relationship that began as an acquaintance but is growing towards intimacy every day.
So, I ask you, who’s in control of your life? Can you give that up and allow God to do “His best work?” If we open ourselves to receive God’s blessing, there is a whole world to discover that we may never see if we choose to “go it alone.” There is a whole lot we could miss out on if we only bring God along for the ride. The big question is…can we let go enough to let Him drive and allow ourselves to receive His blessing?