Whenever I talk about control, I usually open with a story or two that I’m hoping you’ll relate to; little stories about my attempts to have and get and maintain control–sometimes over ridiculously small things. Like the time my husband kept moving the living room lamp closer to his chair so that the light would fall on his reading material. Every day, he moved it. And every day, I walked into the room, groaned in disgust, and yanked the lamp back to the center of the table where it “belonged”. Finally, I gave up and bought a bigger lamp.
As women, we can laugh together at our lamp-sized control issues. But I think you’ll agree that even our silly fetishes and obsessions have dark undertones. Why is it that we can’t let things go? Why do we have to dig our heels in so deep? If we’re honest, we have to admit that our desire for control isn’t very attractive. As we repeatedly give vent to this desire we have to clamp down and insist on our way, slowly we’re becoming women we don’t want to become.
So what is the antidote? That’s the question I always want to get to, when I talk about control. What’s the opposite of grappling for the control that ultimately belongs to God?
Surrender! Surrender is the antidote.
God’s Original Design of Surrender
God designed us to live in sweet surrender to him from the very beginning. Even before Adam and Eve sinned, there was one thing that God put off limits in the Garden of Eden. One tree. As they enjoyed the rest of the fruit in the garden, God put one tree’s fruit off limits. Why? Because he wanted them to live in sweet surrender to him. This is how they would flourish.
As they brushed up against that fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden–dangling beautiful in the sunlight, God wanted them to make a daily practice of surrender. He wanted them defer to his knowledge of what was good and evil. He wanted them to remember that he was God and they were not. He wanted them to trust that he was for them, even when he kept something from them.
Refusing to Surrender
But you know the rest of that story. Rather than surrendering to God, Eve reached out her hand and took the fruit. Rather than choosing to live in surrender to God, she took control. Rather than deferring to his knowledge of good and evil, she wanted to know for herself. Rather than remembering that he was God and she was not, she reached out for the fruit, trying to be like God.
Because Eve and her husband Adam chose not to live in sweet surrender to God, they invited sin—with all of its devastating effects—into the world. We live under the curse brought on by their rebellion, yet today. Each time we desire control instead of joyfully surrendering to God, it’s further evidence of the curse’s effect.
Women, in particular, have a desire for control in relationships. God told us that it would be this way when he said to Eve, “And you will desire to control your husband.” (Gen. 3:16) Every time I treat my husband with contempt over something as ridiculous as the lamp’s placement on the table, my marriage echoes this curse.
But thankfully, there’s another way. Jesus came, showing us how to reverse the curse and live the way God originally intended for us–in sweet surrender to Him. If we want to look at an exact reversal of the Garden of Eden, we should look at the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus knew that the cross was before him. He kept telling everyone that the time had come. Just before his arrest, Jesus brought his disciples to the garden to pray. They kept falling asleep, but not Jesus. He was on his face in grueling agony before the Father:
He knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:42-44)
Do you hear the beautiful surrender in Jesus’ words? Jesus is not like us. He is God. He could have avoided the cross and taken control. But instead, he surrendered to the Father. Jesus deferred God’s idea of “good”—which was not easy or painless! Jesus was in agony as he considered the cross before him. But rather than demanding his rights as Creator and ruler of the universe, Jesus set his power aside and surrendered to the Father.
On this side of the story, we see how very good this was. We see beyond the bloodied face and digging thorns, and the jagged, torn skin. We see past the hands and feet with spikes driven through, and the ruptured side. We see further than the sneering, spitting crowd.
We see the empty tomb and the healed, resurrected, overcomer! We see Jesus, who rose up out of that crave and conquered death! Oh how very good this story is! How good God, the Father, is! And how good Jesus, the Savior, is!
Jesus died, not because of his own sin and rebellion–but because of ours. He took our place, our burden of sin, our penalty. He payed the debt of our sin so that we won’t have to! Yes, we will each die someday. The curse lives on, and death is part of it. But if we are “in Christ”, his story will become ours. We, too, will be raised up from death to eternal life! We too, will have the curse overturned!
The Reversal in Jesus
If you have never made Jesus your savior, I implore you to do so today! You must! I can’t even stand to think about you ignoring this gift of a grand reversal that Jesus offers you!
Because you have been born into a world of sin, you have–like the rest of humanity—plucked fruit that looked good to you, with no regard for God. Rather than deferring to God as your Creator and living in surrender to him, you have behaved as though you are God. In this you have secured a grim future for yourself–separated from God for all eternity in hell. We all have.
But today, you are given the glorious opportunity to throw off the curse and all of its horrifying effects! In Jesus, your life can be made new! Here’s how:
- Confess your sin. Tell God that you have refused to live in surrender to him. You have rebelled against, rejected, and ignored him. (Rom. 3:23)
- Believe in Jesus! He is God’s Son. He came to earth, tucked in human flesh. He died on the cross in your place, to pay for your sin. (II Cor. 5:15, Heb. 10:10)
- Trust God. Trust that he is good; that he loves you and is for you. Trust that Jesus’ death and resurrection is God’s plan for you to be saved from death, and resurrected one day, too! (John 3:16)
Notice that there are traces of surrender in every facet of salvation. We surrender by confessing our sin. We surrender by believing that Jesus is the way to be saved, rather than trying to save ourselves. And we surrender by trusting that God–whom we cannot see or hear–is good and is for us.
Won’t you surrender to God? Won’t you say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done,”?
Surrender has been God’s design for you since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. He sent his son Jesus to show you how beautiful surrender can be! But just like Jesus’ climb up the hill of Golgotha with the cross on his back, surrender is not an easy path. It is an uphill, gritty climb. Yet surrender leads to peace—knowing that God is in control. And it leads to freedom—knowing that you don’t have to be. When you’re living in surrender to God, no longer do you have to clamp down or dig your heels in, convinced that it’s all up to you to make everything in your life turn out right. God’s already written the last chapter! Even death has lost it’s sting!Surrender is an uphill, gritty climb. But it leads to peace---knowing that God is in control. And it leads to freedom---knowing that you don't have to be. Click To Tweet
Surrender to God is the antidote to the curse of control. It’s God’s way of setting each of us free to flourish.