Planning Ahead or Worrying/Controlling?
I don’t know if it is because I am a woman, a mother, or maybe my father’s daughter, one thing is for sure- I know how to strategize. Thinking ahead was taught to me early in life. My dad used to say, “Gretchen, look past the nose on the end of your face.” Through the years, it became second-nature for me to strive for what needed to happen or dodge what needed to be avoided.
Truth be told, it became exhausting. Just because it was second-nature for me doesn’t mean life always went as planned. In fact, the hardest times in my life were when life DIDN’T go as planned. Those moments began to unravel me but I must say, in the best possible way.
I had begun to worry my way through life. After becoming a wife and mother, there seemed no end to what needed to be achieved or what needed to be averted at all costs. Goals were priority and problems were the enemy. “Control” seemed the solution to both.Worrying about how to avoid hardship as a family was not only exhausting, it was foolish. Click To Tweet
If I wasn’t worrying over how to make our goals the reality I hoped for us, I was fretting over preventing trouble from seeping into our family life. It felt like I was dodging bullets because just as unrealistic as it is to do that, equally as much to avoid all the “what if’s” in life. It was futile for me to try and strategize my way out of what “could” happen in life.
What I learned was I am created for more than trying to dodge an unwelcomed future. I could have peace in spite of it …… and so can you!
The Key to Peace
As I came to a breaking point from efforts at controlling life, Jesus showed me something extraordinary in John 16:32-33 AMP.
32 Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world, you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
God taught me that suffering in life is unavoidable. Period. My foolish notion that I could help us dodge the bullet of what “could” happen was naive at best. The greater reality was evidenced by Christ in that very moment in the upper room with His disciples.Because suffering is the norm of this world, no amount of my strategizing can keep me from it. But that doesn't mean suffering has the ability to conquer my peace. Click To Tweet
He spoke these words BEFORE His arrest, beating, and crucifixion! On the verge of unfathomable suffering, Jesus said He had peace! In essence, He was declaring that He was able to overcome the tribulation coming His way through peace. It wasn’t experienced as He “dodged the bullet” but in spite of it!
I am astonished at the context of this admonition from Jesus. He knew that all of His closest companions were going to desert Him AND that pain awaited Him. Yet, because of the reality that His Father was with Him and that He was fulfilling God’s purpose for mankind, He had peace.
It begs the question of what He meant by “overcoming the world” in the face of this impending suffering and loss? I believe Jesus was teaching us that having a peace beyond understanding, such that is firm and steadfast, is how we overcome even as we experience tribulation.
That is incredible! It shows me that I can have peace regardless of my circumstances. I don’t have to exhaust myself trying to strategize my way out of suffering. Although I may be “in the world” which can deplete my peace, the triumphant reality that I am “in Christ” more than makes up for that.
So how was Christ able to have peace while His worst possible fears became reality? He knew that God was in perfect control of horrible moments, that He was not alone, that God had a greater plan at stake, and that He was dearly loved by His Father, and that His suffering would eventually come to an end. Because God was All-Knowing, All-Loving, and All-Powerful, Jesus was able to face the suffering He would rather avoid if at all possible.
This same reality is just as true for you and me. As we enjoy, even rejoice in what we have because we are “in Christ”, we are able to be strong for today and feel confident in our future. Not because it is problem free but because we are guilt free! We feel assured that either God will give us the grace to get through it or take us home to be with Him in heaven.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; Psalm 37:23 NIV
I learned that a far better use of my time is delighting in the Lord rather than trying to dodge what I don’t want to happen or control what I do want to happen. One way energizes me, gives me hope and joy while the other way discourages and depletes me.
I may not know what awaits me in my future or that of our family but I know Who will be there right along with it! God never expected me to manage my own life, nor you. It is way too big of a job for us. He intended for us to spend our time enjoying Him and let Him be in charge of what “could” happen.As we delight in Him, He will fortify us for what is to come. Click To Tweet
As we delight in Him, He will fortify us for what is to come.
I ask you, who is like our God?! Blessed be His Name!