Why Aren't We Free?

The prison doors have been opened, the gates swung wide. The warden has come to you, handed your release papers to you, and in his gruff, awkward voice informs you that you are free to go.

Yet you sit in your cell. Looking around, you see all the memories of the years you’ve spent here. This cell, this prison, has become your home.

You could walk out at any time, but you don’t. You’re frozen. In your head you’d like to get up and leave but you can’t seem to will your legs to move. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to make it happen.

What We Know

We’ve already established that you are free. You are no longer held captive by anything.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

When Jesus died he took away all our sins and put them on himself. He made us free. The walls of our prisons shook. Our chains were broken loose. The doors were opened wide.

So Why Can’t We Leave?

Because of what Jesus has done, we are no longer required to sit in our cells. We can get up and leave at any time. So why do we stay? There is fresh air and sunshine, friends and family, and freedom just outside that door. Yet we languish in our prison, now of our own making. We do it on purpose, with intention, and of our own free will. We sabotage ourselves into staying.

Why would we do that? Here are some reasons that we choose to stay:

Familiarity

We stay where we are because it’s what we know.

As long as you sit in that cell they continue to bring you 3 square meals a day. They walk you out into the yard for some fresh air and maybe a bit of exercise and then take you back to sit in your cell once again.

There’s just something about this place. It’s not particularly comfortable, but it’s horribly familiar. Yeah you have to use the bathroom in what amounts to being in public. The cinder block walls and metal bed are always cold and there’s a faint hint of mold in the air at all times. But you have a few books and enough room to stretch out if you need to. Maybe you even have a chair or a desk if you’re one of the lucky ones. This prison cell has become your home.

We’re creatures of habit and tend to trend toward what we already know or are comfortable with. Our sin, our “habits”, have become a sort of “center” for us. We know what to expect out of them and we’ve made an agreement with them over time.

It’s Not That Bad

You’ve all probably heard the story of the dog sitting on the nail, right? Just in case, here’s the really quick version:

A person moves in across the street from someone whose dog just howls and howls. All day and all night the dog just won’t stop howling. After a few frustrating days the person goes to their new neighbor and asks him about the dog. “Is everything alright?,” they ask.

“Oh yeah. He’s just laying on a nail.,” the new neighbor says. “Well why doesn’t he just get up and move?” “Well, I suppose because it doesn’t hurt that much.”

🤦‍♂️

We laugh at that. In our heads we might even chastise the dog. “That’s dumb. If he’d just move he’d feel so much better.”

But … this is our story. Think about it. We stay in our prison cell, locked away in our sins, because, well … they just don’t hurt that much. The pain of the sin or addiction and it’s circumstances just aren’t strong enough for us to make any real changes. Yeah, we could walk out the door to freedom but things aren’t that bad in here. Why leave?

Fear

We are afraid to move. Literally scared out of our minds. We’re afraid of what we’ll find “out there.” It’s a different world with different rules and expectations. If you were to leave, what would life be like?

Freedom is a scary proposition. Choosing it is to choose life but, in the short term, it might feel like death. Like starting a new diet, you have to leave behind your comforts and lovers and move into new territory. Broccoli instead of potato chips. Water instead of Mountain Dew.

Caffeine withdrawal headaches suuuucccckkkk and it feels like death. In the long run though, when you’ve gotten past the hard withdrawal parts, there is freedom. Your body is so much healthier for it.

The same is true with the things that keep us in our cell. We fear what the short-term pains of freedom will be. We might need to leave behind some “friends.” We might need to not go that certain way home. We might need to actually pick up a glass of water.

Whatever the thing keeping you in your cell is, we don’t look past the short-term pain long enough to know how worth it leaving our cells and embracing that pain will be. All we see is pain. So we stay rooted where we are. It’s easier to stay in your prison than it is to have to figure out how to change your life.

We Don’t Honor The Gift

As we learned last week, freedom isn’t free, but it was free for us. Jesus bought our freedom on the cross. It was a gift. It’s ours. We are free and it didn’t cost us anything.

But what I’ve learned about free things is that we typically don’t value them as much as we would if we had paid for them ourselves.

How many free ebooks do you have that you’ve never read? How many free samples of things that you’ve never opened? How many free 30-day trials to things that you never even used once. (Side note: Raise your hand if you’ve ever signed up for a trail period like that and then you forgot you had to cancel it. They charged you, and you were like “What even is this thing?” ✋)

We take gifts given to us that we don’t really want and re-gift them. We bring home large quantities of stuff from conferences (a.k.a. “swag”) and then dump the majority of it in the trash because we don’t really care about it.

Regardless of the source, we tend to place low value on things that are free.

We’ve been given a great gift. Our freedom has been handed to us, but rather than walk in that freedom, we choose to stay in our prison cell.

Maybe we don’t really believe that the gift was for us. Maybe we don’t accept it because we’re trying to avoid getting burned. Maybe we don’t believe that we’re worthy of such an extravagant gift. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t care.

Whatever the case, we don’t honor the gift that has been given to us. We throw it away. We believe that the life we have inside our prison cell is better than the life of freedom that’s been handed to us.

You Are Free

The truth is, we are free.

There are no chains. No shackles or handcuffs. There isn’t even one of those ankles bracelets with the GPS tracking that tell the authorities where we are.

But here we sit, in a prison of our own making.

Let me tell you something. Our time of remaining in our prison has come to an end. We’ve embraced these reasons, these excuses for far too long. It’s time for us to break down the walls of our prison with intention and purpose. With hammer in hand we must destroy it.

Our enemy would rather that we leave it standing. Even if we walk out into the daylight of freedom, if we leave the walls of our prison intact, he knows that we have a fallback in case we ever want to go back. There will always be something left to entice us.

We would rather leave our prison standing too. I mean, after all, we built it. Brick by brick, over a long period of time. It really is a work of art. Craftsmanship of the highest order. We spent so much of our lives building it. It would be a shame to bring it all crashing down.

Also, when things get tough, when the arrows of the enemy inevitably come crashing down on us, we’ll desire a place of safety and refuge. If you’re in prison, you don’t need to worry about the arrows, right? You’re not vulnerable. The enemy has no reason to shoot at you. It feels like a safe place.

Guys and gals … listen to me … IT’S PRISON! You’re a prisoner. It is not a safe place. You might not get shot at. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some dude with a shank waiting for you around the corner. I’ve seen Prison Break, I know how these things work.

As long as even one brick of your prison remains on another, we will always have a tendency to go back. We will start picking up the pieces and slowly but surely putting it all back together again. Each time we do, the prison gets a little bigger and infinitely harder to destroy.

We must fight this with everything within us. We need to feel the pain of our imprisonment for what it is, and find the desire to leave it forever.

Once you’ve tasted freedom, I mean real freedom, the last thing you need is to be tempted to go back to what you once knew. Remaining free will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. It will be the most important work you might ever do.

It will be worth it, I promise.

Honor the gift you’ve been given. Fight against familiarity, pain, and fear. Stand up and walk out of your prison.

After all, you’re free, remember? You can do that.

Freedom Isn't Free

It’s World War II. Free nations come to the aid of those whose freedom has been taken away by force. Millions of men and woman fought and died to turn back the hand of those who would seek to oppress and control the world.

But freedom is restored.

Sauron and Saruman make evil plans and send out their war machine to take over the whole of Middle Earth. The free people of the land - elves, and dwarves, and men (and a few hobbits) - join together to stop them and to destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mordor. Many, many people die in the process.

But freedom is restored.

Each of us are condemned to death because of our sins and failures. Jesus, the perfect son of God, out of the greatest act of selfless love, takes upon himself the penalty meant for us, and dies an excruciating death in our place.

But freedom is restored for all people.

In his ultimate sacrifice, Jesus took the keys to hell and death for himself, thereby setting us free. He paid the price that we should have had to pay for our freedom.

With all of our mistakes, sins, and baggage, we deserve the penalty of death but Jesus took that penalty for us so that we wouldn’t have to.

He freely sacrificed his life so that we could have ours.

Freedom isn’t free.

We Have a Choice

We’ve been given a wonderful gift. Our freedom was handed to us on a cross. It was laid in a tomb from which, three days later, it came out, alive and well. What are we to do with that?

We have a couple of choices.

The first option is to choose to ignore that freedom and to live our lives the way that we want to. We can choose to go back to the slavery that we were freed from.

The second option is to choose to live in that freedom that was so freely given to us.

Which one should we choose?

The first choice might seem easier. Life as we want it sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? No one telling us what to do or how to do it?

Except that it’s a lie.

Remember that you are in a war. In choosing to go your own way, the way of your sins and addictions, you are choosing to live in occupied territory. You may not actively be on the front lines of the war, but that doesn’t make the war any less real. You live in a walled city created by a harsh taskmaster. Your enemy will make you feel like you’re free but the reality is that you’re not allowed to move outside the walls he has erected to keep you in. Oh you can do pretty much anything you want to … except leave. You are living such a small story. You’re not really free.

The latter is harder. You will live on the front lines of the war. You will be shot at with flaming arrows. You will sometimes get hurt. You will have to fight each and every day. This war against your heart will never end.

But here’s the thing.

There is a larger and better story than the one you’re living right now. A story of freedom, yes, but also adventure, chaos, and redemption. A story of grace, mercy, and love. It is a story fraught with peril but filled to overflowing with feasting, songs, and dancing. It is a story that began before the fabric of time itself and somewhere, deep down inside, you can hear it calling out to you. It is the grandest and largest story of them all and you have a vital role to play in it.

Will there be danger? Absolutely. Will you get hurt? Probably. But at the end of all things, if you don’t give up, you will be a hero. On that day, the one who paid the price for your freedom will approach. He will give you a robe, put a crown on your head, and give you a new name. The name that you were meant to have all along. The name that you will wear for eternity. Your true name.

Then he will put his hand on your shoulder. With a smile upon his face he will look you in the eyes and say “Well done.”

Later, sitting around the fire with your brothers and sisters, you will share stories of the battles you fought so bravely together. You will compare the scars you’ve gotten along the way, and you will know that every one of them was well earned and worth every ounce of pain that you had to endure. You will know then that your freedom was worth the price.

Now that sounds way better than living in an occupied walled city out of harms reach of the war, doesn’t it?

Happy First Birthday!

One year olds don’t need birthday parties.

Birthday parties for one year olds are completely for the parents. They put together this elaborate event with a theme, and balloons, and a cake that all matches. They invite all their friends and family and make all this hullabaloo. For what?

To watch their child absolutely destroy a cake, make a GIANT mess (which, by the way, as a parent you probably wouldn’t have tolerated the day before and you most likely won’t like the next day), take a thousand pictures, and call it cute.

Let me let you in on a little secret. The one year old child doesn’t care. Not even a little bit. They have no idea what’s going on.

One year olds don’t care about giant birthday parties. They care about eating and sleeping and maybe a little walking and playing with some toys. They care about doing all those things around people that they love and feel safe with. That’s it. That’s all they care about.

And so it is with this blog.

This blog couldn’t care less about turning 1. You know who cares? Me.

I do! This is a tremendous day. It’s a milestone marker for me. The blog itself is just a tool. It’s pretty agnostic as to who is using it or even what it does. But to me, today is a really big deal. A really, REALLY big deal.

What is the purpose of this blog? Why do I write every week?

I didn’t start out writing this blog with a “purpose” or theme in mind. All I knew was that God had told me that I needed to be writing. So I wrote.

Now, I make it sound like it was easy. Oh, God said do it, so I did it. That’s not exactly the way it went down. In truth, He and I have been having this conversation about my writing for a long time. I’m talking YEARS. It was a long, long time before I ever wrote the first word here. He wanted me to write. I even wanted to write. But …

If you know me then you know there are at least two things about me that kind of get in the way of me accomplishing anything. One, I get obsessive when it comes to details. Every little thing has to be perfect or I won’t do it. And two, I am easily swayed to just let the world take me where it wants to take me. I have great plans but struggle in the follow through department.

So for years I would “wrestle” with God over details. What should I write about? How long should each post be? Where should I do my writing at? What format should it be in? Blah, blah, blah. Then I would just get tired of fighting through it all and I’d conveniently just forget to start. I’d get started writing something and then miss a day and let the whole writing enterprise fall by the wayside.

So near the beginning of last year God and I were once again having a conversation about my writing. He was telling me how I needed to write and I was confessing my fears about needing to have a plan and a theme for what I wrote and a place to put it all. I was giving Him all the excuses.

  • “I don’t have just one thing that I want to write about. A successful blog needs a theme.”
  • “I don’t have a website yet. And I don’t want to use Wordpress. I can’t start writing because I don’t have a home for it.”
  • “How am I going to find the time to write?”

I could keep going, but you get the gist. Basically I was just making excuses. So in desperation I asked God one last time: “What should I write about?” His answer: “It doesn’t matter. I want you to write. The rest will come.”

It still took me 8 months to write my first post.

You’re a Fool

I have heard it said that the definition of a fool is someone who knows what to do yet refuses to do it. I was being a fool. I knew what to do, I just didn’t want to do it. I felt so unprepared. I felt like I was going to be embarrassed. Like no one was going to read what I wrote anyway … so why bother?

I needed to bother. Even if no one else in the entire world read my blog posts, I needed to write them. No matter what it was I wrote about, whatever it was that God put on my heart, or that had my attention that particular week, I needed to be obedient to the call to write. I needed to write for me. It was (and is) a form of therapy, and time spent with God, and learning for me.

I hope that everything I write about will help others like it helps me. There will come a time (in the very near future I think) where what I write about will be dictated by the problems and pains that you, my lovely readers, are having and that I can help solve.

I’ll be honest. I want to write and sell books and make money at this craft. I want to have an audience that cares about what I write. I really do want to have an effect on peoples lives. What writer doesn’t?

But if all I ever do is write to please others all the time then my audience becomes someone it was never meant to be. My writing has always been on purpose to satisfy a calling.

Ultimately, it’s for an audience of one.

Stats

That being said, I do care about numbers and stats because they are a marker of growth. I definitely want my blog to grow. I believe God does too. I know we’ll get there in time.

So, what’s the first year been like?

I started out by publishing my posts on Medium because I needed them to have a home. I’m super grateful that Medium provides a place where people can post their thoughts without having to build something custom and personal right out of the gate.

The very first official piece for this blog was posted on August 17, 2018. It is called “Gratitude Changes Everything.” To this day it has gotten 19 total views. It’s a great little piece. You should read it.

Since then I’ve posted 50 other posts (for a total of 51 - including this post). I only took off one week early on when I thought I would not post on the weeks that I had my sabbatical week. Since then I’ve learned that I can write early and still post something even when I’m not officially working on stuff. Also, that consistency is key. These were big revelations.

Over the course of the year I have published 47,879 words for a 938.8 word average per post. That’s the equivalent of a 192 page book! Week by week it doesn’t seem like a lot, but they definitely add up over time. Also, if I /published/ that many words, how many words do you think I actually wrote before editing? Haha … so many words!

The biggest thing of this year happened on April 26, 2019. On that day I published a piece called “Hello World” in which introduced all of you to my new website. That was a giant day for me. I had wanted a home of my own where I could post what I wanted to, when I wanted to and I finally had one. I love it. I hope you do too!

The top 5 posts of the year (by number of views) are as follows:

  1. This is My Story (66 views)
  2. What’s Up For Me in 2019 (48 views)
  3. Practical Ways to Rest - Bonus Episode (35 views)
  4. Year Six (30 views)
  5. Gratitude Changes Everything (19 views)

Thank You and Future Plans

Thank you so much for reading along with what I’ve been writing this past year! It means so much to me that you would come along for the ride.

For me personally, this year has been a huge success. Making it a whole year where I consistently posted every week is a giant achievement. Like a really big deal. There are very few things in my life that I have stuck with that consistently over time. It feels really good to make it this far. I don’t plan on stopping now.

I’ve got plans for the future. Slowing but surely I’ll be making changes to my website to make it better or easier to use. Maybe I’ll throw in some new post types and try my hand at quotes or link lists or something - but never in place of my weekly post. I’m about ready to really start working on adding a weekly email newsletter where you can get these posts in your inbox every week instead of just hoping you come across the promotional post on Facebook or Twitter.

But I need your help in so many ways. If this blog is ever going to really succeed, it will happen because of all of you. So I have some requests.

First, if you like something that I write, if it touches something in you, please share it with others. This thing only spreads if we all share it.

Second, let me know what kinds of things you’d like to see me write about. What problems or pain points are you experiencing? What topics haven’t I touched on yet? If you’ve ever said to yourself “He should write about that”, this is your chance. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email. Let me know!

Again, thank you so much for coming along on this ride with me. You are all so special to me.

Happy birthday, my little blog! Keep growing up. You’re doing great.


Because You Read All The Way To The Bottom: Good news! Did you know the song “Happy Birthday to You!” is no longer copyrighted material? It’s true! It is now in the public domain. You can now sing that song at birthday parties without fear of reprisal or being slapped with large fees. You could even record that song and post it on Youtube if you want. Sing away!

Fighting for Freedom - An Introduction

“Come back next week and we’ll dig a little deeper into what is takes to actually be free.”

This is what I said at the end of last weeks post. Those are my words. It’s an exact quote.

What was I thinking?

There are some people who are really great at taking a large topic and condensing it down into concise statements that make sense. That’s not me. I tend to be a little wordier. As if you hadn’t noticed. 😉

I Want to Affect Your Appreciation

The more I thought through the topic of fighting for freedom the more I came up with to write about. Any attempt at condensing it into one blog post seemed like a travesty. The topic deserves more respect and care than that.

You guys ever see the TV show Sports Night? It’s a great little show about a group of people who are creating a nightly sports show in the vein of SportsCenter. If you haven’t, you should see it. Ask me, I’ll let you borrow my DVD’s.

Anyway, there is a great bit in one of the episodes that defines the battle I’m having with this topic of fighting for freedom.

One of the producers (his name is Jeremy) is putting together his first highlight package for a baseball game. The show has a lot of games to cover that night, so each game is probably only going to get 10-15 seconds of airtime. Jeremy tries his hardest, but his first cut of the game is eight and a half minutes long. What ensues is a hilarious battle of creative differences. Jeremy wants to affect people’s appreciation of baseball. He wants to show “the battle.” Casey, one of the anchors of the show is just trying to convince Jeremy to “make it shorter.” Eventually, Dana, the executive producer has to get involved, telling Jeremy, much to his chagrin, that the cut should just have three particular items in it. Jeremy complies but ultimately feels that the life was sucked out of the piece.

Gosh, I feel so much like Jeremy right now.

Constraints

Constraints are great. If this was my job (like it was Jeremy’s) and my editor said they needed 2,000 words on fighting for freedom with three main bullet points, I would find a way to give them just that. You would get the gist of the topic, but it would be missing it’s life. Fortunately for me, this is my blog (haha!) and I have no such constraints. I am my own editor.

If I just cut down what fighting for freedom means, if I condense it down into a few bullet points that squash it into one post, then I do the entire topic a disservice. I would have done what I said I was going to do (“… we’ll dig a little deeper into what is takes to actually be free.”), but that wouldn’t really serve you well. I want to serve you well. I want this to be a great resource for you both now, and into the future.

You Are Free …

For now, let’s get started with a little introduction.

Last week we established that you are already free. You are no longer held captive by anything.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galations 5:1

Just because we are free doesn’t mean that we don’t choose to continue to live in bondage to our sins. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t allowed ourselves to be “burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

There are places in us that we choose to stay enslaved to. All too often we get a taste of freedom and yet choose to turn around and walk right back to our prison cell. There are a number of reasons I believe that we choose to do this, and we’ll get to those in the coming weeks.

… But It’s a War

The thought I want to leave with you today is this: You live in the midst of a great war. It’s battle after battle of arrows and armor and swords and lions looking to devour. It’s a war for your heart. As John Eldredge says in his book Waking the Dead:

“The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.”

You are free, but you live in the midst of a war unlike any other. It will require everything from you. You must fight if you are to stay free. Freedom, after all, isn’t free.

Coming Up

Next week we’re going to break from this freedom series (that we literally just started) to celebrate a certain blogs birthday (our little guy here turns 1! 🎁🎂🎉). The week after that we’ll dive right back in and really start to delve into what it looks like to fight for your freedom.

You Are Free

Dear Friend,

You are free, you just don’t know it yet.

We live in a world that heaps upon us it’s expectations, rules, and standards. We, being sheep, spend an exorbitant amount of time, energy, and money in our efforts to conform to those standards.

  • Fashion and design trends change and so we throw out all of our old clothes and remodel our homes excessively.
  • We try every “lose weight overnight” trick in an effort to look like the models on the covers of our magazines even though we know they don’t actually look like that in real life.
  • One that hits closer to home for me: We’re stuck in a continual upgrade cycle on all of the technological gear imaginable because we just can’t seem to live without the newest feature that we didn’t even know we wanted (needed?) until we were told we did.
  • On a little bit darker note we tend to believe that we’ll always be stuck in ways that we don’t really like but we can’t seem to escape. We believe, however falsely, that we will always be an alcoholic, we’ll always be angry, or we’ll never be able to break free from that habitual sin.

Truth Telling

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

– Galations 5:1

It’s time for you to hear a little bit of truth.

Your house and your wardrobe are fine just the way they are.

You are beautiful no matter what you look like.

You don’t need the latest, most up to date gadget you can get. If your stuff works, it works. Replace it when it dies. Your budget will thank you later.

This next one might be a little harder to swallow, but it is true nonetheless. You are not your sins and addictions. They are what you experience and choose to do, but they are not who you are.

Like the verse from Galatians above tells us, Jesus has already set you free. What He did on the cross took away all the things that you think you are. The only thing stopping you from living in the freedom you already have is you. Your pride, fear, and doubt. Your willingness to fight. Once you choose to believe that you are free then you can start to make that freedom a reality in your life.

What is Reality?

You are free from fear. No longer does it need to hold sway over who you are and what you become.

You are free from doubt. You have everything you need to make the right decisions. Once you know who you are then … you know who you are. Own it.

You are free from everything that has ever held you back. You are free to be who and what you were meant to be.

You have so many incredible things inside of you and they are all clamoring to get out. You have talents, skills, and gifts that no one (even those closest to you) knows about you. You have abilities that would change the world if you would only set them free.

You may still have to follow the rules of this world (driving 100 MPH in your neighborhood is a no-no) but you no longer have to conform to its expectations. You don’t have to wait for permission to be who you are meant to be. There are no gatekeepers. You are free to become whatever it is that you feel like you are meant to become.

You are free to love and to laugh. You are free to live. You no longer have to be a slave to anything that has ever held you captive in this life. Not your fears. Not your doubts. Not your sin. If you’re a Christian, you are truly free. If you’re not, you can be. Live in that freedom and become the person you are meant to be.

I can’t wait to see who you become.

Your friend,

Rich

P.S. Knowing your free is one thing. Actually feeling or being free is something else. Freedom isn’t free and like I mentioned a little bit earlier, sometimes you need to put up a fight. Come back next week and we’ll dig a little deeper into what is takes to actually be free.

Control Issues

I didn’t think I had control issues until I wrote this post. Here’s how I found out otherwise.

The Lead In

Over time I’ve learned that I think more clearly when I write. I’m not sure what it is about writing that makes this true. Maybe it’s the quiet of the morning when I normally write, or it could just be the process of putting thoughts on paper. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. It doesn’t really matter. What I do know is that I am the closest to my thoughts and they are the clearest and the loudest when I write.

The same can be said about my closeness to God. As I listen to my thoughts and my heart, as I write these posts to you and for you, I am in a position to hear what God wants to say to me. It’s just one of those times when I can hear him the best.

I learn so much about myself when I write. It’s actually pretty scary.

The Post

So there I was, humming along, writing this other post. Maybe I’ll finish it one day but the gist of it was about how I feel like I have a lack of faith. I was talking about how I want to have a backup plan for everything and how, in desiring such, I was closing off my ability to have faith. Faith in myself, faith in others, and ultimately, faith in God.

As I thought about this, I started wondering why. Why do I lack faith? What is it about my life that hinders me from having the faith I see others have?

Boom-shaka-laka

And then it hit me. I do have some measure of faith. I do have belief. I do trust. But only when I can control it.

Here’s an excerpt from the post I was writing. I was talking about where I see my lack of faith show up in my life. This is the moment when I realized what was really going on.

I see it in my relationship with God when I won’t give over to Him every part of my life. I trust Him mostly, but there are probably still some areas where I’m lacking in my faith or that I just want to control.

Holy cow that’s it. The issue is control. Why do I want backup plans? Because I want to be able to control the outcomes of everything. I want to know and be prepared for every situation.

What I learned in that moment, what God taught me, was that the places where I lack faith are the places where I don’t want to give up control.

💥

Ouch

That one hurt me just a little bit deeper than normal. I had no idea I even had control issues. I mean, I’m so chill, right? I wanted to fight back but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that God was right and I couldn’t deny it.

Want some examples?

Lack of Faith in Myself

The “what if’s” of life lead me to have a lack of faith in myself.

  • “What if I’m wrong?”
  • “What if you don’t like me?”
  • “What if I do this thing and it sucks?”
  • “What if I fail?”

I don’t trust myself with things I don’t know and if I don’t know something I don’t have any control over it. My tendency is to fear and not let myself try new things because I can’t control them. So I make backup plans in an effort to control my situations and surroundings.

Lack of Faith in Others

I have things at work that I could give away to other people (should give away to other people) but I don’t want to because I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t do it my way and I really like my way. I know all the nuances and things to look out for.

So I end up keeping all this extra stuff that, at the end of the day, I’m sure someone else could do just as well or better than me. This leads me to just piling on extra work because I’m scared of what me not having control over that thing would mean (for that thing and for me). That also would mean that I would need to find new things to do or take on new responsibilities. That’s new territory and really scary for me.

Lack of Faith in God

I am constantly finding areas of my life where I haven’t completely given over my trust to God. If I don’t have control of those areas of my life, who is going to be watching out for them, making sure that I don’t mess them up? Who’s going to be there to catch me when I fail?

So I hold on to control. I wrap a tight fist around these areas and I don’t let go. I make backup plans and contingencies. I labor and spin and spend a superfluous amount of effort to hold tight to control.

A Tale of Mythic Proportions

Here’s the thing about all of this: Control is a myth.

We are all living out of control. When I think of someone who is “out of control” I think of someone with no boundaries, who is acting all out of sorts. Do you have a picture in your head of what someone who is out of control looks like? Me too … and I don’t picture myself. To me, I am a model of control. You probably don’t have an image of yourself in your mind either. But it’s true. We are all living out of control.

We can’t really know for sure from one day to the next what will happen in our lives. Tomorrow is a fickle mistress. We don’t really know what she will bring.

  • Tomorrow you might lose your job … or you might get a new one.
  • Tomorrow you might have a conversation with someone that changes the direction of your entire life … or you could just stay inside all day binge watching TV and eating potato chips.
  • Tomorrow you might break your leg … or you might get in a boat and, for the first time in your life, sit in awe as you feel the breeze over the water hit your face.

Here is what the Bible says about tomorrow:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

– Matthew 6:34 NIV

No matter how hard we try we can never really and truly be in control. Oh, it feels better to think that we can, but we can’t.

That’s not to say that we should be reckless. I also don’t mean it to sound like we shouldn’t make plans or attempt to be intentional with our lives.

We definitely should make plans. We absolutely should be intentional and not let ourselves be swept away by whatever life brings our way. I mean, life will bring some crazy stuff your way if you let it.

But faith is an exercise in losing control. It’s giving up control to someone or something else.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

– Hebrews 11:1 KJV

The idea of giving up control is scary. It means I lose control. But when I give that up to Someone who has my best interest at heart, whose plans are better than mine, who loves me with an everlasting love, then I also lose the weight of fear, doubt, and worry. In doing so I am lighter, more agile, and better able to live the life I am meant to live. I’ve removed the self-imposed burdens that those things carry with them and laid them down as well.

If I get to live a better, more fulfilling life by losing control, then I’m all in.

I imagine we all could do with a little less control, no?