When we created the Bearded Theologians we wanted to be able to provide space for people to have a place to write blog post but not want to maintain a blog. We met Christy-Anna at the World Methodist Conference last August. She is our first international blogger and we welcome her and her perspective.
It’s not easy trying to control absolutely everything in your life, but try telling that to my brain. Because I sure do try. I’s kind of like I want to consider every single possibility for every situation so that nothing ever comes as a surprise and therefore I’m never in a situation that I haven’t pre-planned for.
Like playing a constant game of metaphorical chess in my head.
If you’re also a planner, you’ll totally understand what I mean. The feeling of having everything organized and perfectly in place gives you a sense of peace and preparedness that is calming. You like lists, diaries, calendars. Or even if you don’t like them you find they bring order into your life-when you use them that is. I mean take this blog post- It was 11 days late being finished because I tried to keep the plan in my head and didn’t properly record it in my diary… thereby reinforcing my internal need to be organized!
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t plan and doesn’t see the need to, I can pretty much guarantee there are people like me who consider you with a mixture of awe and confusion. How can you possibly wake up at the beginning of the week not knowing what you’re doing and when?!
But you probably look at people like me and wonder how on earth anyone can be so uptight.
And to be completely honest- I’m pretty sure this is a lesson God has been trying to teach me for a while. I’ve been reading Matthew 6: 25-34 almost daily for the past few months to constantly remind myself to stop worrying so much, so when I was asked to write a post on what the Sermon on the Mount means to me- I had to laugh. It’s so easy to worry when there are so many things that could go wrong. I’m a student. I have 2 children who depend on me. Finances are tight and not always assured. But God is trying to drive the point home to me that it’s not me, with all my careful planning and thinking ahead, who is driving my life forward and making sure I have everything I need- but God.
Because even with the best planning in the world, unexpected things happen.
In the middle of October, I was told there’d been a mistake with my childcare grant. I was going to be worse off by a lot of money for the year- which meant not being able to afford childcare and not being able to attend classes. I panicked. Had visions of dropping out of uni and having to scrape by on state benefits and going without basics to feed my children. But God provided a solution that I never saw coming. A part-time, flexible job for 8 weeks which is exciting, brilliant experience for me and which will pay me enough to make sure I can afford the childcare I need. A similar situation occurred 2 years ago, and back then God provided an equally unexpected solution.
And there are so many other situations I’ve faced over the past couple of years. Something seemingly impossible, insurmountable, that leaves me with no choice but to pray and to trust that it’s God, and not myself, in control.
Because the need to try to control everything comes from a place of fear.
My daughter and I have recently been working our way through The Chronicles of Narnia on audiobook. I’m very familiar with these stories but the other night, when listening to Prince Caspian, a quote from Aslan speaking to Susan struck me for the first time,
“”You have listened to fears, child,” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
When we listen to fears, it takes away our courage and stops us from listening to God. We end up thinking we are the ones in control. And ironically, that just seems to invite more fear, because what happens if you fail?
And the danger here is that we not only try to control our own lives, but the lives of others around us.
In this passage, Jesus specifically warms against us judging others, and also from seeking retaliation against them or even focusing on their sins when there is work to do in our own hearts. Accepting that God is in control also means trusting that he is working his purpose out in the lives of others- without us needing to worry about them.
There’s so much that can be unpacked from the Sermon on the Mount, but for me, the overwhelming message is to trust God.
Trust God by giving up on the need to control,
Trust God by not giving in to fear,
Trust God by following his way and believing that he will bring all things in line with his plan.
It’s easy to become so scared that other people might do something wrong that we seek to place restrictions on them or to police their behaviour. But I don’t believe that this comes from a place of love, but from a place of fear.
And when we listen to fears, we start thinking we have to be the ones to control everything and we stop trusting that God is the one in ultimate control.
The challenge then, for me, is to learn to give control back to God so we can stop worrying. And be brave again.
Christy-Anna is a lone parent from Dorset, England. Formerly British Methodist Youth President 2010-2011 and Chair of Youth and Young Adult Committee for the World Methodist Council 2011-2016, she is now a full-time Sociology and Anthropology student and Trustee of international development charity, All We Can.