Growth · Weekend Word Devotions

Weekend Word: Relinquishing Control

[Today’s devotion on control is part of the Weekend Word devotional series. Come back every Saturday to get refreshed through the reading of God’s Word.]

Today’s Scripture: Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
    it is not for them to direct their steps
(Jeremiah 10:23, NIV).

Jeremiah started out as a reluctant prophet, protesting that he was only a youth when God called him (Jer. 1:6). He prophesied at a difficult time: Judah was about to be overtaken by the Babylonians. His message often caused him to be the victim of ridicule and abuse because the proclamation of coming judgment was not what the people wanted to hear.

We often call Jeremiah the “weeping prophet” because he deeply lamented for his people. Although he tried to warn them, they would not listen. I imagine the situation felt like it was completely out of his control. He had to preach because God’s message was “like a fire shut up in [his] bones” (Jer. 20:9), yet he was continually mocked for that message by the people he intensely cared about.

Life can often feel out of our control. Things don’t always go our way, circumstances occur that mess up our plans, and significant events happen that swing our lives in a different direction than we anticipated.

These out-of-control times often leave us struggling to pick up the pieces. We mourn over what we thought we would have but don’t. We kick and scream and cry. And sometimes, we wonder why God isn’t listening — why He isn’t doing something.

How did Jeremiah cope with circumstances that were out of his control? He brought his fair share of complaints before God, like many of us would do. It’s certainly all right to be real with God in that way.

But I believe one of the ideas that sustained him was a realization that it wasn’t he or the people of Judah that were in control. He knew that “people’s lives are not their own” and that “it is not for them to direct their steps” (10:23). Things were out of his control — that’s the point.

One of the first steps to being content with our circumstances is relinquishing our desire to control them. God knows what He’s doing. Stepping back and looking at the circumstances in my own life, I’ve started to realize that I’m glad I’m not the one in control — I don’t have a complete picture of my life from start to finish, but God does.

Once we’ve relinquished control and given it to our all-knowing God, we open ourselves up to hear the direction God wants to lead us in, the next step He wants us to take. If we cling to our own control, we won’t fully understand what He wants for us because we’re too focused on trying to put the pieces back together of a puzzle that we don’t even have the full picture of in the first place.

It’s okay if you feel like your life is out of your control — it should be. But are you trying to get it back on track yourself, or are you allowing God to take the reins and lead you in the direction He wants you to go?

Today’s Thoughts: What area of your life are you holding onto control of too tightly? What might happen if you relinquished your control to God? How can you start doing that today?

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