Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: God's ultimate control in my unpredictable world

Friday, April 8, 2016

God's ultimate control in my unpredictable world

   If I could choose one word for what my life has looked like this year so far it is Unpredictable. In both great ways and uncomfortable ways, I could use that word for all 8 months of my newlywed life. However, it has been even more real and more uncomfortable these first 4 months of 2016. For the first time, Jon and I have been unsure when our next dependable job will be and each week has looked different since the school year has begun.
   For me, that means no schedules, changed plans, and no two weeks look the same.

   This might not seem like such a big deal to some, but it has been oh-so-challenging for my obsessive planning personality. I like lists and schedules and routines and predictability, or at least a warning before every plan gets changed.
   At first, I welcomed it as a challenge, but my open arms didn't last long because I thought it would be over quickly. But, here we are, four months later, I still have no idea when we will have a predictable schedule again, and I am choosing frustration instead of thankfulness. I am frustrated that I have been chosen for these challenges and stretching exercises instead of thankful that the Lord is working out of my heart my extreme (wayyyy more extreme than I thought) need for structure, control, and predictability.

   This morning, the Lord finally spoke to my heart exactly what I have been feeling through Matthew 8:

"And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.
And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.
And they went and woke Him, saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing.'" (8:23-25).

   I feel swamped. Instead of feeling like the Lord is guiding me on some great and sunshiney adventure through beautiful places, I feel like He has pushed my sailboat away from the dock it was sturdily tied to into choppy seas and scary winds and waved from the shore with a "Good luck!" as the battering of the seas began. I feel like I am being swamped by the waves of obligations, my own expectations, the learning curve of married life, and being pushed around by the unpredictability of life. I do not feel like I am thriving, but (to put it dramatically) perishing.

"And [Jesus] said to them, 'Why are you afraid, O you or little faith?'" (8:26)

Why are you afraid? Don't you know who I am? You are mine! My very close friend, my disciple! You have seen me provide and protect you. Have I ever left you wanting? Have I ever left you to perish? How could your faith be so small when you know who I am?

   That was the gentle reminder He spoke to my heart this morning.
"...Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm." (8:26)

   He is not just chillin' below deck because He expects me to battle these ornery winds and waves alone. He is resting below deck because He is in control. And He is inviting me to leave my fretting and worrying, to stop grasping at control against the mighty forces of nature, and to rest with Him. To know that "even the winds and sea obey Him," (8:27) and that they are accomplishing His purposes of taking me on a greater adventure than I could ever ask or imagine.

   I never thought I was someone who needed control, but I am realizing that my need for scehdules and predictability are just a way for me to feel like I can control my life. And this need for control is one of the hardest things I have been asked to surrender. But it becomes so much easier when I can be confident that I am not surrendering my control to these merciless wind and waves, but surrendering control to a loving Father who actually has control over everything anyways!

   It all comes down to how much I am willing to trust Him; to choose resting in His control instead of trying to gain my own. Then my soul can experience this beauty and calm and peace, even when my outside circumstances don't look anything like it.

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