Feeling Out of Control?

SPEED scares me.

You want to see crazy? Ride with me in a car going over 40 mph when I’m the passenger. Not only am I a “backseat” driver, telling people HOW to drive,

My palms sweat, there’s a knot in my stomach. The same symptoms I get riding on a roller coaster, ski boat, snow mobile, motorcycle. I ride the brakes when I’m on a bicycle going downhill.

So imagine my amusement when my husband and I visited Los Angeles where we had to drive on multiple freeways: THE 405, THE 105, THE 605, THE 710, THE 5, and THE 110.

March 2014 LOS Angeles 226

Driving for five days at speeds that far exceeded my comfort zone, and dodging five lanes of even faster, more aggressive drivers…drove me bananas.

When I wasn’t counting down the miles and minutes on the GPS, my eyes were clinched tight. I kept a white-knuckle death grip on the arm rest. And I prayed.

Bottle-neck traffic that had us crawl at a snail’s pace was answered prayer.

No joke. Speed makes me crazy.

On those rare occasions that I ride on the back of my husband’s motorcycle (only on rural roads) I remind myself to breathe rather than fixate on the black asphalt rushing below my feet. I cling to my husband’s rib cage so tight that he can’t breathe.

Isn’t it strange that clinging to something or someone when there’s a perceived threat can provide a sense of security…albeit it a false one. 

I doubt holding on for dear life to an arm rest or my husband will keep me safe. Even a seat belt can only do so much at death-defying speeds. But I pretend.

Then again, perhaps speed is not the problem. Perhaps it’s a lack of control that scares me because I’m not in the driver’s seat.

Which makes sense. Because even when both feet are on the ground and I hear about someone who was diagnosed with cancer, or a commercial plane that disappeared in the Indian Ocean, or the earthquake that jolted Los Angeles the day after we left…..

My instinct is to GRAB something and PRETEND everything will be alright.

I want to feel safe, have some sense of control.

So I think of every contingency; take every precaution. Isn’t that what wise people do?

·    Get a vaccine for the latest flu germ.

·    Eat right, floss the teeth, exercise, and get an annual health exam.

·   Buy insurance for the car. The house. My life.

·   Save and invest money. (Hide a little extra under the mattress. Never know when the banks will crash.)

·   Stock the pantry for natural disasters.

·   Lock the door, the windows, set the burglar alarm…just in case.

And for good measure, and fire insurance against hell, become a Christian and attend church regularly because surely bad things don’t happen to good people, right?

Uh, where does it say that in the Bible?

Fact: Life Happens. Like seat belts, my best efforts to be safe and plan for emergencies can only do so much.

I have many choices in life, but I have little control.

“Faith, prayer, and obedience are our requirements. We are not offered in exchange immunity or exemption from the world’s woes. What we are offered has to do with another world altogether.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

So I Believe. Pray. Obey. Cling.

To Yahweh, the Only God who is Sovereign and in control over the affairs of men, nations, and even the weather. For I’ve been born again in Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit, studied God’s Word, and learned experientially …

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”  (Psalm 18:2 NIV)



How Do I Give Up Control?

My teenage son is going on a weekend trip. He waits till the last minute to pack his duffel bag. I follow him out the front door with my mental checklist.

“Did you pack extra socks? You want to keep your feet warm.”

“One pair should be enough.”

“Did you pack sunscreen?”

“Someone else should have some.”

“Do you have a flashlight?”

No answer.

I’d say my voice is going in his one ear and out the other, but there’s an ear bud inserted into his right ear.

Dad’s voice, “Leave him alone. He’ll be fine.”

“What if he forgets something he needs?”

“Then he’ll remember it next time.”

They drive away, leaving an exasperated mother. “I wonder if he packed a tooth brush.”

My daughter says I’d make a great administrative assistant. Even when I leave home, I type out detailed instructions.

“Water the plants on these days. Don’t forget to take out garbage. In case of emergency, call….blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I micro manage.  I’m being real here. But how do I give up control?

Do I allow my child to learn from his mistakes and suffer the consequences when I can prevent many what ifs from happening?

Or can I?

Through no fault of her own, my friend was in a serious car accident. Her daily routine and future plans came to an abrupt halt. While she recuperates, I cringe. What if that happened to me?

Ruled by the tyranny of the urgent, I don’t have time to pause in mid-sentence and wait for life to resume.

Or do I?

Sixteen years ago, I gave birth to my son a week before Christmas. He was three weeks ahead of schedule. Unable to breathe on his own, he was hooked to a ventilator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

I had no control.

Instead of running nonstop to prepare for the holidays, I spent two weeks being still in a dim hospital room with my newborn infant. Baking cookies, mailing Christmas cards, and a dozen other holiday traditions didn’t happen that year. However,

When I loosened my grip on everything I thought was important

Surrendered my expectations

Kept my mind fixed on the Sovereign God

Trusted Him regardless of the outcome

“He kept me in perfect peace.” Isaiah 26:3

He still does ….

When I give up my need for control, and sit still in His presence.

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