What is out of control in your life right now? If we can learn to control the controllable, we can cope with the uncontrollable. So think about that—isn’t it true that when we’re totally bummed out because so much control has been taken from us, we begin to lose control of what we need to control
(Julie) We have talked about all the things we cannot control – even before COVID 19 we had to acknowledge many uncontrollable things in our lives. From the weather, to other people, to our heritage and our past—so much is out of our control.
(Alice) Yet the truth is, even though they are uncontrollable, we often just keep trying to control them. Isn’t that true? It’s hard sometimes to let go of what we can’t control, and now in this pandemic, it’s even harder.
So true. If we’ll focus on things we can control, the uncontrollable things and people in our lives will be much easier to handle. Yes, even in a pandemic.
Trying to control the uncontrollable always ends up in frustration and disappointment. How often I’ve been there and done that—wasting immense amounts of energy and time trying to change things and people, instead of accepting what is truly beyond my control So, the lesson we need to learn is that if we will control the controllable, we can cope with the uncontrollable.
Let’s think now about what we can control. What comes to your minds?
(Julie) The first and most important thing we can control is our relationship with Jesus. After all, we are as close to Jesus as we want to be. He never moves away from us, so if our relationship with him is not where it should be, it’s because we’ve moved away from him.
And here’s the thing: It takes commitment and discipline and desire to stay close to Jesus and get to know him better and better all the time, but he has promised that if we seek him with our whole heart, we will find him. When you stay in first love with him, you have the strength to cope with the uncontrollable.
(Alice) If you’re like me, you find that the first thing you start to neglect when you’re struggling with the uncontrollable is your time with Jesus. Either you excuse yourself because the uncontrollable thing or person is taking so much of your time. Or you just don’t feel in the mood.
I believe the enemy of our soul knows that when we’re trying to control the uncontrollable, it’s a good time to come at us with some of his flaming arrows or discouragement and often the first thing to go is our time with the Lord. And all that leaves us very frustrated and emotionally depleted, doesn’t it? So, we just don’t have any desire to spend time with Jesus.
(Julie) But the facts are, no one can keep us from having a close fellowship with Jesus if we want to. There is no person or circumstance that can rob you of Jesus.
Paul told us that in Romans 8, and he really pulled out every word in his vocabulary to get this point across to us. He said:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 38-39).
Now, he was referring to our eternal security as believers, but he was also referring to our daily walk with the Lord. Nothing and no one can interfere with our ability to experience and know the love of Jesus in our lives if we don’t allow them to. They can lock us in prison, take away everything we own, but they cannot take away Jesus and his presence in our lives.
Is that uncontrollable thing or person in your life right now coming between you and Jesus? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a choice, right now, that regardless of how difficult or frustrating the uncontrollable is, you are going to stay closely attached to Jesus Christ. That means getting back to spending time with him, feeding on his Word, talking about him and thinking about him, instead of focusing on the uncontrollable.
I promise you, when you get back into first love with Jesus, the uncontrollable takes on a whole new perspective. Not long ago I spend some frustrating days trying to control the uncontrollable, worrying about the situation, and wasting precious time and energy on what I could not control. And while I was in that state, my desire to spend time with Jesus went downhill, because I was emotionally so exhausted over the uncontrollable thing.
But finally one morning I got back to my time with the Lord, and as soon as I opened the Word and started reading, it was like water on dry ground. I soaked it up, and realized how thirsty I was for the water that he alone can give. Once I was replenished and kept on replenishing my hunger for Jesus, I had a much better perspective on the uncontrollable, God sent a person into my life for a brief moment who helped me gain some needed insight, and I could put the uncontrollable situation behind me and move on.
(Alice) I always realize when that happens that Jesus has never moved away from me—I’m the one who moves away from him. So, if there’s a distance between me and him, it’s because I’ve moved away. That’s one thing I can control, so I just need to move back close to him.
A second thing we can control are our thoughts. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
To the Philippians he wrote:
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
I cannot overemphasize the importance of learning to control your thoughts and bringing every thought into captivity. What does it mean to make every thought obedient to Christ? I think of it this way: At any time, whatever I’m thinking about, would I want Jesus to hear it? Would I say it out loud to Jesus? If not, then I shouldn’t be thinking it. After all, he knows all my thoughts anyway.
Dear friend, if you tend to brood and think about the wrong things, imagine the worst, dwell on the negatives, and allow your thoughts to be controlled by the circumstances or by the wrong stuff you’re pouring into your mind, you will never find victory over the uncontrollable nor will you know peace and contentment. If this is an area of difficulty for you, I have a book entitled Think About What You Think About which may be helpful in learning to control your thoughts. I encourage you to contact us for information on how to get that book or just go to our website where you can order it.
(Julie) There’s a third thing we can control and that is our tongue. James tells us that when we control our tongues, we are able to control our whole personality (James 3:2). I don’t think we realize how powerful our words are—how powerful our tongue is.
So much damage is done every day because tongues are out of control. Just think back over the past week: What words did you say which you wish you had not said? You didn’t have to say them, did you? But you did. They just came out before you knew it, and once they are said, they cannot be unsaid. Oh, how we need to get control of our tongues and the words that we say. Relationships would improve immensely by simply controlling our tongues.
That’s something to pray about daily. I pray several scriptures into my life concerning the tongue, including Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
(Alice) And when our attitudes are wrong, that’s when we’re likely to say things we should not say—when our tongues are out of control. So, another thing we can control is our attitude.
Attitude is always a choice. Have you been shifting blame a lot lately? Do you often say things like, “Well, you wouldn’t have a good attitude if you had my job,” or “How can you expect me to be positive, given all the problems I have”? If we talked to people who know you really well, would they describe you as a positive person?
The facts are, no one can force you to be in a bad mood, no matter how bad the circumstances are, if you don’t choose to be in a bad mood. No one can make you be negative if you choose not to be. You can control your attitude no matter what the circumstances.
If you’ve been shifting blame a lot lately, maybe you need to ask God to give you a new attitude. David prayed:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 KJV).
And Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23-24).
We can control our attitude by putting away the old self and putting on the new. As believers, we have the Spirit of God within us, and that Holy Spirit would not have a rotten attitude. If we have one, it’s because we are not putting on the new self, and we are not being made new in the attitude of our minds. But we can be at any time on any day that we choose to allow God’s Spirit to change our attitude.
(Julie) Another thing we can control is our integrity and our dependability. We may not be the fastest or the most experienced or the most educated person, but we can always be the most dependable and maintain the highest standards of integrity. Those we can control.
Yes, It’s often good to just pause and ask ourselves some of these questions: Do you perform in all areas with complete honesty? Are you known as a dependable person? If not, those are things you can control.
These are just a few of the things in our lives that are controllable. And if you and I will spend our time and energy keeping these things under control, we will have the strength and wisdom we need to deal with those uncontrollable things.
Here’s how that works: When I focus on controlling the controllable, it takes my focus off the uncontrollable. I don’t have as much time to be frustrated by those uncontrollable things and people, because I’m busy controlling the controllable.
And then, when I control the controllable, I don’t waste energy and time on the useless activities involved with the uncontrollable. You know, in any given day we have a limited amount of emotional and physical energy to spend. When we spend it on frustration over the uncontrollable things or people, then we end up emotionally and physically depleted, with no resources left for other things. You’ll be amazed at how energized you will be when you focus on controlling the controllable.
If you’ve been spinning your wheels over the uncontrollable, I want to encourage you to enter into the joy of letting go of the uncontrollable and focusing on controlling the controllable. You will discover incredible freedom, you’ll be more productive, you won’t be tired as much, you’ll get along with people better, and most importantly, you’ll be more and more like Jesus.
Jesus didn’t fret and bother about the Pharisees and religious hypocrites who were always trying to kill him, or at least make him look bad. He just kept focusing on doing the Father’s will. He didn’t get frustrated when other people made demands of him that were not in his life’s plan. He just did what his Father had sent him to do.
And at the end of a brief career, he could say: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). He glorified the Father by controlling the controllable.
We will glorify God in our lives when we learn to allow him to control the controllable. The uncontrollable is tolerable and manageable when we are focused on the right things—even in a pandemic.