“I give everyone and everything to you, Lord; I give you everyone and everything.”
Well, I have had this post planned for a while, and now it seems like it is the perfect time. If you thought you could control the world around you, I would bet the coronavirus is showing you that you can’t. Schools closed, sports cancelled, churches shut down, people getting laid off, and stock markets in turmoil. I think it is clear we are not in control.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)
He is asking us to surrender to Him to receive rest. I have found that one of the obstacles for me finding rest is my desire to control things in my life so let’s talk about what I mean by surrender.
I want to talk about surrendering control in terms of driving a car. I am driving my car and need to sneeze. I grip the steering wheel tightly with both hands to try to control the car, while I sneeze violently. The car jerks sharply to the left almost hitting the car next to me as I try harder to control the steering wheel and my body involuntarily convulses with each sneeze. I feel like that is how I often behave in life. When things come at me, I try to control things more at the exact time I am incapable of controlling them.
Let’s try this again. It is the same circumstances: I am driving and need to sneeze. This time I tell the passenger, “I need to sneeze; take the wheel!” I surrender control of the steering wheel to the passenger and sneeze. The car stays in its lane and all is good. This is what God wants us to do. He wants us to recognize that we cannot control everything and we need to surrender control of our lives to him.
John Eldredge calls this Benevolent Detachment. He talks about letting go of our worries and giving them over to God. This is about trusting that God will take care of those worries. I often try to control my job, my life, my family, and much more. What is the result of this? Burnout. The World Health Organization has now classified burnout as a disease, which they say is characterized by: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.
I have started the practice of praying, “Lord, I give you everyone and everything.” I pray this over my wife and two boys as I leave my house in the morning, and I pray it over my work as I am driving home at night. I have noticed a huge difference. In the past, I would think about work all night. What should I focus on the next day? What could I have added to this or that project? I noticed that once I started to surrender control at the end of each day, I was more able to be at home and be present with family.
I also think it is key that we surrender control to our Father and not just give control away to the wind. If we go back to our example, I could just let go of the steering wheel when I need to sneeze. However, the car will go of course just like if you were trying to control it. I think this is the approach of some today who say things like, “what happens, happens.” We must recognize that it is releasing control too, but instead of giving it over Jesus who has offered us rest, we are surrendering control of the world, which gives the enemy a strong foothold.
The practice of surrendering control is simple but takes time to take root. I found that every day or week or month the surrendering gets deeper. I realize I am still trying to control things that I had thought I had surrendered. That is why, I keep asking the Father what I am trying to control and what do I need to surrender.
Friends, we were not meant to bear the burdens of this world. We were not meant to control our lives. Jesus told us to surrender control to him and we would find rest. We were meant to live life with Christ and rule and reign with Him. Catch that, we were not made to rule alone just like we were not made to be spectators. We were made to rule with Christ.
Here are a few resources I have found helpful:
Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge
One Minute Pause App by Ransomed Heart
Practice the Rule by Matt Chandler