Surrendering the Kung-Fu Control Grip
Chapter 4 is now our HOW to Chapter 3’s WHAT. And right off the bat, Nicole tells us that if we’re not careful, we can try to control our faith in the same way we try to control people or circumstances. If that happens, we become guarded in our faith, unwilling to be vulnerable, refusing to surrender to God.
And surrender is just want we need to have a “full and free life.” Surrender is our how.
And understanding the Kingdom of God will help us release our control grip then surrender to God.
So. The Kingdom of God. What is it? How does that relate to us? Throughout the Gospels, Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven (God) to things of earth (like treasure in a field or yeast in dough) to help us understand what it is. And it’s in His references and examples of God’s Kingdom that we start to realize that…
1. God has created us to rule. In Genesis 1:26 God says that mankind will be masters over all life — we are created with this “innate desire to rule our environment, to ‘take charge!'” What does that mean for you and me? That God has given us influence, things to manage.
That sounds pretty good, right? But this managing thing becomes problematic when we quit ruling ALONGSIDE God.
God is the original boundary setter. And for us controllers, we’re not so unlike Adam and Eve. We would rather rule our worlds our way because we think we know what’s best.
Stubborn. Independent. Strong-willed. We controllers tend to dig our heels in when we “know” what’s right and best and most important. If we’re honest, we’ll admit that those attitudes rear their ugly heads when we’re focused on ourselves, when we act as if we’re the center of the universe.
But we’re not. I know, it’s hard to admit it. But we’re not.
2. When our influence is aligned with God’s influence, we’re unstoppable. When we acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe, we can choose to be more satisfied with our position, “orbiting around the Son.” And, OH, the freedom that comes when we’re not trying to control everyone and everything around us!
We take what He has given us–our kingdom and our rule–and we align it with His Kingdom and His rule. …All we have to do is get aligned and let Him do the rest.
3. Choosing to lay down our kingdom is a lifelong event. We make the choice to surrender — to lay down our self-centeredness. We work to align ourselves with God’s plan so He can do the rest…till we hit a bump in life’s road. Then we veer off course…till we realign ourselves with God again. And this happens many times in the course of our lives.
Struggles, bad choices, hurtful people, hard decisions — these are the things of life, and because they happen all the time, we are constantly having to realign ourselves with God. And so many times we just don’t know what to do, so we try to control, regain order, sort it out ourselves. When really what we need to do is go to God.
I was blessed to attend this year’s Global Leadership Summit these past two days, getting poured into by our world’s greatest leaders. And as I re-read this chapter, I realize that something all these great leaders have in common, besides great leadership skills, is a faith in God that keeps them at His feet. They recognize they are not the center of the universe. And they know that to figure out what to do when the going gets really tough is to BE STILL. Get away, get quiet, and get with God. Because it’s only when we get still and quiet that we hear from God.
These great leaders recognize that they have control over very few things. And while we may not be “great leaders of the world,” we are leaders in our own worlds. We lead ourselves. We lead our kids. We lead in the work place. Leadership is about influence, so knowing what we DO have control over helps us recognize what we DON’T. And when we can see the difference, our influence grows.
Nicole came up with a short list of what she believes she has 100% control over, meaning she feels like she can predict the outcome with 100% accuracy because she is fully in charge of that decision. Ready?
my posture toward God’s Kingdom in my life
the space I make for God
the way I treat God’s Word
my attitude toward others
Notice what’s not on the list: her health, other’s actions, natural disasters, our kids’ personalities, our genetic make-up, the person driving in front of us… Can’t control a one of these…and a whole lot more!
But those things we have control over are crucial.
Nicole points us to Joseph. His biblical story is one with many more “bumps in the roads” than high points or victories, and yet he consistently — every time — looked to the God who is in control and chose to believe in Him. He is a great role model for us. He helps us see how to maximize those things we do have control over (our actions and our beliefs) and let go of those we don’t. I love how Nicole summed up Joseph:
When good comes, he believes God has blessed him. When evil comes, he believes God can transform it. His perspective is always informed by his belief that God is in control.
Wow. Perspective is so important. I’m too often too quick to judge, jump to conclusions, or blame. What if instead of trying (most vainly) to control people and circumstances, I look to God and choose to believe that He is in control — and out for my good!?!
This attitude, this perspective, doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, we choose our attitudes, but we’re human. Our emotions rise and fall, our circumstances are ever-changing, and people are totally unpredictable, which means we’re always having to stop, seek God, and choose the next good attitude. It’s a process. It’s constant.
“A surrendered heart and life require constant upkeep.”
So, how do we surrender? It is a posture, training, and discipline. How do we come to God? What are we doing to train ourselves in God’s ways? And how do we respond to our Father’s discipline — and do we see it as an act of love?
When God sent His Son to live, to die, to rise from the dead, He did so as the ultimate act of love. If we can accept that…REALLY accept that gift of love for ourselves, there’s no way we can see God as anything but as a Father whose sole motive is to help us grow and better ourselves. Even His discipline is of love.
And when we accept and believe this, we can come to God in a posture of surrender. Hear Nicole:
I don’t have to hold it all together or give it all up. I can surrender to His plan and then be obedient to just what He calls me to do.
I don’t know about you, but that word “just” leaped off the page. I only have to obedient to JUST what He calls me to do. In other words, I’m really good at adding to that list of to do’s.
We can get better at surrender when we practice it more…make it a habit. That’s a different kind of discipline — self-discipline. “There is a discipline to believing that God holds all things together…even our suffering.”
And who better to look to in the Bible on the subjects of faith in God and suffering than Job. If you don’t know him, get acquainted. Through his life and faith, we can discover a secret to this surrendering thing: Job always comes to God honestly. “He pours out his heart and his lament, yet he keeps God in his position of authority.”
God didn’t give us Job to be “just another story.” He gave us Job, just as He gave us Joseph and David, to show us that we’re not alone or unique in our struggles — those life struggles that bring pain and sorrow. And He also gave them to us so that we can see that our faith doesn’t need to be the struggle, rather it needs to be our anchor — that thing we can cling to when life storms around us. No matter how bad it gets, we can trust that God is, and always will be, good.
We said that surrender needs to be practiced so it can become a habit. It is a “learn-by-doing activity.” Nicole suggests one of our practices should be the “surrender check-in.” Every time we’re given the temptation to control something or someone, we stop and check our control freakiness.
How does a surrender check-in look? When you feel that rise of control coming up from your depths — like the moment you want to tell your husband how to drive or your son how to get his act together — stop and ask yourself,
Whose interests do you care about?
It’s a “mental space bar” that gives you just enough room to find the truth of the situation.
I’d say it’s a great way to check our motives. Is this about their good or my own? Is this about me looking good? Am I justifying my own life choices? Am I exerting my own right to rule rather than listening to God?
Now, for this method to work, we have to be willing to be really honest with ourselves! But when we are, “the practice of surrender allows us the confidence to use our influence as God intended.”
And in God’s economy, He will use our surrender to bring us “to places of greater influence.” Here it is…summed up:
We exert our influence and share our lives with others, but we constantly make eye contact with our Father God, keeping in check with His positioning, knowing that we want to be within His easy reach.
These chapters on our controlling natures aren’t meant to beat us up. Rather they’re meant to be revealing and equipping. When we sincerely, genuinely put into practice what we’re learning here, we’ll discover our character begins to change.
Nicole urges us to read and believe the promises of Isaiah 30:18-21. When we believe what God promises, our souls — the very person we are — shifts, changes for the better. And as our character changes, so does our behavior. We become gentler, softer, more peaceful and grace-filled. “Our character is changed by our surrendered spirit.”
As we give up our own control to manage life and others, we will discover that God gives us incredible influence. …Because of the gentleness and humility that are born out of surrender, others will be drawn to you.
To draw on her imagery from Chapter 3, we need to pay attention to our tendencies to be a “king” or a “pawn.” And when we do, we’re more likely to surrender to God as His hand comes upon us, molding and shaping us into the women He knows we can be — “women who live in the truth that God has it all under control.”
Can I hear an amen?!
Letting all that soak in,