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For most of my life, the idea of control has been something I sought after but possessed little of successfully. 

As a little girl, I wanted my mom to play Polly Pocket’s with me, but I wanted to tell her what to say and how to say it.

As a teenager, I developed an unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and perfectionism to the point that I would do anything to achieve unrealistic goals that only hurt others and myself along the way. 

As a young adult, I have tried countless times to grasp dreams and hopes falling from my hands as if I could control the way the Lord would pry them away from me. 

In Proverbs 16:9, the Word of our God states, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” 

No matter how hard we try to formulate the right equation for a controlled and balanced life, something will always throw us off. It’s like a teacher who plans all of her lesson plans for the year, only to be thrown off by two snow days in one week (*facepalm to self).

When we learn to relinquish control to the one who already holds it, I believe there are ten ways that God can work when we’re no longer in control. 

1) Rest

If I’m sincere, rest is a concept that has been artificial to my nature since birth. Other than the occasional naps as a baby, I distinctly remember hating taking naps in childhood. My mom told me I was a crier, and rest was not in my vocabulary or hers (sorry, mom!). 

However, outside of napping, I believe that when we surrender authority to Jesus, the type of rest He calls us to pursue through Him is a little bit different than we typically imagine. 

When Jesus tells us to “rest” in Scripture, especially related to resting from our worries, concerns, and longings to control anything and everything, He means to lay those burdens at His feet. His call to rest is less about stagnancy and more about trusting Him and His direction for your life.

Matthew 11:28-30 notes, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

In Psalm 127:2, we learn, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

God’s presence is within us, and when we choose to rest in Him instead of seeking meanderings for control, His peace will dwell among us. “And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest'” (Exodus 33:14). 

2) Trust the Process

While resting in God can be difficult, trusting the process is also something the Lord will use to stretch and shape us. 

I love physical exercise, for instance, those moments when I finish a good workout and my muscles are crying because I worked them to exertion. But as much as I love stretching the flesh God gave me, I strive to develop the heart pursuing His call within me as well. 

“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Just as a trainee has to trust the trainer, won’t you trust the source of hope and security to train you in what matters?

3) Following His Call

In high school, I helped lead a Bible study where every week we shared Bible nugget tidbits. During senior year, I spoke on how many seniors had fallen into the trap that God’s will was a dot (myself included). If I made the wrong move, including college, career, or friends, I was fearful I’d miss the mark entirely.

But when God calls us to be Disciples, to leave all matters of every control in His hands, rest assured that following His call is as simple as following Jesus. Sure, a job, finances, and friendships matter, but His Word’s premise is based on “Love God, Love Others (Isaiah 58:6-7, Matthew 6:33-34).”

In Micah 6:8, the Bible paints us a beautiful picture of what it means to follow and rest in His call: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”