Cleaning the Heart 3: The Control War

Who holds the remote control to your life?

Wanting to be in control of our own lives is natural. If we control our situation, then we can make ourselves happy, right? That seems to be how people naturally act. “Don’t tell me what to do. I’ll follow my heart and find my own way.” This works in movies, but not in real life.

Maybe we think that if we can be rich, then we will be happy. I have met people with expensive cars and possessions who are miserable. Consider the numerous movie stars who had so much going for them, and they died of a drug overdose. Perhaps money is not the magic ingredient for happiness.

What else in our control will ensure our happiness? How about our relationships? Maybe if we find the right person who meets our needs and satisfies our desires? But other people are broken, too. They have wants and needs, and we quickly learn that the biggest hole inside ourselves cannot be fixed by a flawed person. People will fail us. And, worse, we also fail them. It’s just too hard to be perfect. There are too many moving pieces, too many things outside our control.

So, in a quest for meaning, we could throw ourselves into our work. The corporate world rewards well, and one can feel accomplished for a time. But do those accomplishments actually matter? Will I really care on my deathbed that I increased the profit by 20%?

What else could we control to ensure happiness? Is happiness even the right goal? According to the Bible, if we strive for gaining the whole world, we will lose our soul.

The Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man (Jesus) is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”

Matthew 16:24-27 (ESV)

Finding Jesus brings persisting satisfaction. He is joy, and he floods our lives with this deep sense that everything will be okay. He has got our backs. The world will go crazy, but God is in control.

Jesus is the perfect human and the perfect God who knows how to mend deep heartaches and pain. He binds wounds and restores us to wholeness. He knows the deep hole that everyone has on the inside—and he can fill it with an eternal peace and joy. Do you want his joy in your life? Click this link to read about asking Jesus into your life.

Of course, having Jesus in one’s life does not make life easy. Because there is sin the world, everyone—rich and poor—has hard times. The secret is to have an eternal peace that can you can hold on to. If you have someone who loves you immensely, that can carry you though much.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NIV)

But it gets even better. God also knows everything. So now this best friend who gives you peace can also tell you things. He knows the past, the present, and the future. So he will help you make good decisions. If you listen, he will train you in wisdom.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

James 1:5-6 (NIV)

When you make wise decisions, then God will likely start blessing you. Of course, God is not a magic genie that we can command. Since he sees everything, he knows what will help us grow to be more like him, which is his goal for us. So he will bless us at times, and then he will allow hard things to test us at times. But stay faithful to him, loving him.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?

And who shall stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul to what is false

and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the LORD

and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5 (ESV)

God’s purpose is to make us more like he is, set apart to bless others. He wants us to be pure and blameless, and he helps us become like that. He wants us to be a blessing to others, to help other people who are hurting. The more we become like Jesus, the more he teaches us, and the blessings flow. So my focus becomes less about myself (what will please myself) and more about what will help others. Ironically, it is in focusing on God and on others that brings meaning, purpose, and joy to my life.

For this to happen, I have to give up being in control of my life. I have to trust God when he tries to correct my actions. He is good and trustworthy, and he sees the full situation, whereas I only see a small piece.

So I learn to say, “Not my will, but your will be done, oh God.” Think of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. We ask God for “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Does this scare you? Remember that God is completely good and loving.

So we find truth in what seems to be ironic. If you want your life to be in control, you have to give the control over to God. He is the one who sees everything clearly. If you were at sea on a ship, you would want the person who has the best eyesight and is the most trustworthy to steer the ship. Give God the control of your life, and you will find happiness, peace, and joy.

To learn more about righteous living, read Psalm 1 and Psalm 37.

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