We can’t control the people in our relationships or the circumstances we may face. But there is a way that offers us hope.
I drank in the silence as evening settled. I was preparing to lead a Bible study and needed to focus. Friends had asked my husband and me to house-sit for them, and Tim was out for the day.
The house was situated in the Pennsylvania woods. The night sounds comforted but also unnerved me. Married only a year, nights alone felt lonely.
The hearty stone fireplace invited me to review my notes in the living room. I paced the floor, studying.
Suddenly, I stopped. A snake lay in the corner of the living room. I stood paralyzed by fear.
What do I do?
And then I remembered years ago when my mom found a snake in her kitchen; she grabbed a glass bowl and placed it over the snake.
I crept to the kitchen, grabbed a bowl, and carefully set it over the coiled snake.
I trapped it!
I sat there for several minutes staring at the snake through the glass bowl, ensuring it wouldn’t escape. Several times I was certain it had moved. But still, it remained trapped.
After an hour of watching the snake, Tim finally returned home.
“I caught a snake!” I said as he entered the house.
“Careful!” I warned. “It might be venomous.”
Tim took a cookie sheet, slid it underneath the bowl, and carried the snake outside. He released it, and we both watched for what it would do.
Seconds passed. It didn’t move. After another few seconds, nothing.
Finally, Tim crept closer to the snake, then turned and looked at me and said, “Chris, it’s a fake snake.”
When Our Attempts at Control Fail
I wanted to crawl under a rock. I was so proud of my accomplishment. I felt so brave trapping a snake. I believed I had everything under control. But the snake was a fake.
Later, when I could laugh about the situation, I realized the irony of it all. I was preparing a Bible study on control, and as I pondered that fake snake, I thought about my own illusions of control.
How often have I found myself confident in a situation, believing I had everything together, yet failing to realize the “snake is a fake?”
And yet, there is good news in realizing I am not in control. How?
Because we have a God who is in complete control, even when our attempts at control fail. And that God fights for us.
“Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.” (Psalm 68:28 ESV)
I love this verse because it showcases the strength of God, “summon your power,” and reminds us of his heart—“… you have worked for us.” God is not only omnipotent (having all power), but he works that power for us. He is both able to deliver and He desires to.
We do not have to try to hold it all together because we have a Father who is both strong and loving. He is not either/or but both/and. Powerful and gracious.
I can think of three areas where our illusions of control can easily manifest.
First, life plans. It’s easy to think we have it all together. We believe we know what is best for our lives. We plow ahead, eager to accomplish great feats for the kingdom. Then, life derails us. Doubt threatens to overwhelm us as we wonder why things worked out differently than planned.
Next, relationships. Try as we might; there are no guarantees in our relationships with others. We cannot control their actions or reactions. Our love for others doesn’t necessitate that they will love us in return. Relationships wither, children wander from home, marriages break.
Finally, safety. This can be especially hard for moms. We do our absolute best for our children. We research the healthiest immunity-boosting vitamins and closely monitor them when playing outside.
But then we are disheartened when we find out that A + B doesn’t necessarily = C.
Our daughter develops a chronic cough. Or breaks her leg while climbing the tree. We’re right there. But we’re not in control.
When the snake is a fake, and we fail to keep it together, we have One on our side whose power never fails. “Summon your power, O God, the power, O God, by which you have worked for us.”
May we never forget that power is motivated by a heart that loves us.
In His Word
Meditate on Psalm 62:11 today. “Once God has spoken: twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.” (ESV)
In Your Life
Are there areas in your life where the snake is a fake? How does knowing God has complete control over our lives and steadfastly loves us encourage your heart?
The Psalms are a great reminder of God’s power and love for us. In The Lord I Take Refuge: 150 Daily Devotions Through Psalms offers excellent devotional content for encouraging readers to rest in the sovereignty and love of God.