Hello, my name is Kimberly, and I am a control freak. I have gotten better about it over time, but I still enjoy having control and I still dislike the feeling of being out of control. It's part of who I am, my personality, it's how God made me; but even with all that said, I cannot use that as an excuse to steadfastly hold on to my control at the expense of God's will. It is that balance that I have always had a hard time maintaining.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says that we are a new creation in Christ, so it should make sense when I say that God has changed me. But He doesn't take away who we are, He betters the person He made. He didn't choose to take away my controlling tendencies, or my dislike of lack of control; instead he chose to teach me who was truly in control (spoiler alert: it's God!) and how to accept my new role as one who had given up control to an invisible deity who doesn't have to let me in on His plans for my life, His thought process of how and why He is doing what He is doing, or His list of how He is going to accomplish this task (you will know at this point if you, too, are a control freak because you will be nodding your head right along with the list I just gave, knowing that that is how WE take control of things).
Over the span of many years God has used events in my life, Bible stories, scripture, sermons, testimonies from other believers, and my friendships with fellow Christians to shape and mold what acceptable control can look like. It hasn't been easy. One of the hardest parts for me is my thinking can be so black and white. For example: If I am to give up my control to God, then that means I shouldn't control anything. No. God has taught me that is not what it means. Instead, He has redefined control for me. Truth be told one of the biggest lessons in what control is and is not came in the form of having children. To learn to control the environment without being a controlling person is akin to trying to run with a hundred pound weight tied to your body: it is entirely possible, but you must train and condition yourself to obtain that goal. You will not get there on day one.
The woman’s Bible study of our church is reading a book together. In a recent chapter the author referenced the book of Job. It gave me reason to read Job again. I began to see something new in Job: a person who was in control.
I start with why I think Job was a person who may have been a control freak like me. Here is a man who had 10 grown children and 11,000 livestock along with a large spans of land and numerous staff. I'd like to propose the idea that a man with that lifestyle would likely have some control tendencies, as you could imagine the chaos that would ensue if Job didn't have the ability to take control of all of the things he owned, managed, or raised in his life. In 1:5 we see that after his children feasted together Job would “send and have them (his children) purified.” He would also sacrifice burnt offerings on behalf of each child, covering all bases in case any of his children “sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Ding ding ding, my control alarm has just sounded! He took care of purifying his children after the feast (so it could be done and be done right) and he made sure he offered sacrifices to God on behalf of his children (so it could be done and be done right). Yes, I would consider that to be a person who is in control.
I read through the book for some examples of what Job controlled.
~ His Behavior. Messenger after messenger brought Job news of devastating loss: the oxen, the donkeys, the servants, the camels, and the sheep were all carried off or killed on the same day. (1:13-19). The final message was that of the loss of all of Job's children. What did Job do? (1:20-22) “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.' In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job worshiped the Lord, and Job did not sin.
~His tongue. After loosing every earthly possession and all of his children, Job's health is attacked. (2:9) “His wife said to him, 'Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!'” Job shows great control over his words, and the implication of this is that these words came from his heart; they were not hollow words. (2:10) “He replied, 'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” There are times we as believers can say something because we know it sounds right to the ear. God will always know our heart.
~What he accepts as truth. Throughout the book of Job three different friends offer him counsel. Each time it is Job's turn to offer a rebuttal he responds one of two ways: he either states what he knows about himself or what he knows about God. Job uses truth to block out the false advise offered by the others. He controls what he will allow to enter his head knowledge and his heart knowledge. In 42:7 we see God confirm Job's truthful words about Him, “I am angry with you and your two friends because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.”
~His actions. Repentance is a choice. Throughout the Bible there are so many times we see people repent. Job's repentance is one of my favorites. (42:1-6) “Then Job replied to the Lord, 'I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now and I will speak; I will question you and you will answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.'” Whether you consider repentance to be a difficult or an easy task, I believe it takes great control.
As for me, I am one step closer in defining a Godly control in my life. Reading Job in this light has been helpful. I find that there are parts to my personality that God works on in stages, slowly developing, lovingly polishing, sometimes grinding down the jagged edges. My control is one of those. The book of Job is one more reminder for me to seek control in my behavior, in my speech, in what I accept or reject as truth, and in how I act. Giving my control over to a God who has plans to prosper me and not harm me, while still maintaining a control over the actions I am held responsible for... that is a balance I seek.
*As a side note: If you are interested in reading about the awe and wonder that is our God, Job 38-41 is an amazing description of the enormity of our Lord that is spoken from his own mouth. One of my favorite things about it is that a tiny part of it was turned into a powerful worship song called “Indescribable”
you can listen to it here: