Are Things Out of Control?

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them."
James 4:13 17 NIV

I’ve been thinking a lot about James 4 the past week or so. As red-blooded, southeast Texans, we are used to pulling ourselves up by our boot straps and getting it done. We find comfort in our freedom to come and go as we please, and most of us don’t like the idea of being told no. Yet, that is exactly what we hear across the world today. We are told to stay home, don’t go to work, wear a mask when in public, don’t shake hands and, the big one for me, don’t gather for public worship. Normal day-to-day activities have been taken from us and, in a way, I feel violated, as if my rights as an American have been stripped away as if the things that I controlled in my life have been taken.

My good friend and fellow Clergyman Curt Benham used to say, “Control is an illusion,” and, as much as I didn’t like that statement, I’m beginning to see the reality in it. James, in his letter to the 12 tribes, says the same thing to his reader, “...you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

Those words have never been truer. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, grasped them long ago. Read Ecclesiastes 1. We really are finite with little to no control, and I find as I relax into that reality, I’m met with peace. Comfort is the opposite of control. As we let go, give up and throw in the towel, we meet Jesus. My friend John says, “God’s office is found at the end of our rope.” There is nothing sweeter and safer than God’s office. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Verse 10 says, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."
 
Friends, in this time of uncertainty, when all of our normal has been turned upside down and shaken, let me encourage you to remember my previous devotional from Matthew! In fact why, don’t you click here and revisit it.

And remember that you are loved more than the birds of the air and your heavenly Father really does have it all under control!

The Rev. Jonathan V. Adams
Associate for Pastoral Care and Outreach