Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Myth of Control and the Truth of the Present

It’s strange how the mind works. The mind would rather fret about the future or pine over the past so the mind can cling to its own illusion of control. But the current moment? It cannot be controlled. And what a mind can’t control, it tends to discount. Brush past … over. It’s the battle plan of the enemy of the soul to keep us blind to this current moment, the one we can’t control, to keep us blind to Him, the One who controls everything. 
- Ann Voskamp, from One Thousand Gifts Devotional

   One of the greatest drains on our time is the persistent worry that pushes into our thoughts. Of course, Jesus spoke to this when he said in Matthew 6, "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."
   I appreciate the stark way that Ann Voskamp addresses one of the reasons that so many of us turn to worry: we want to believe we are in control. Instead, the limits of our control stop at the edge of our minds, our hearts, our words, and our actions. Regardless of how close or how influential we think we are to others or to a situation, we are not in control of much.
   God's call on our lives is to let go. I think this is what Reinhold Niebuhr was getting at when he penned the Serenity Prayer a century ago. He wrote: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
   Instead of letting go of the myth of our power in the moment, we cling to moments that are not present. This is precisely the work of the one who is working against our lives. Jesus came that we might have abundant life, but there are forces working directly against us. One of the best things that hell ever accomplished was to trick us into picturing a silly, red-costumed little person with horns and pitchfork when anyone mentions the devil. This way of thinking reduces our concern and prompts us to let down our defenses. Instead, we must remain vigilant in our watch for the real faces of evil that would lead us to destruction: worry, laziness, anger, arrogance, greed, or an unforgiving heart.
   God loves you and loves me. Could it be that we are at our best loving God back when we let go of trying to control others or let go of the past or future and instead live fully in the present? There is a word for this kind of living: faith.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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