I like to be in control, or at least to feel like I am, but my youngest son has an especially large dose of this trait. One night at dinner, he started crying because his older brother would not stop doing something (all households with two or more children know this story intimately).
“Asher you are not in control…”
I caught myself here, realizing much my little guy hated to feel out of control, and amended my statement.
“Of anything, or anyone, but yourself.”
“You cannot control Jak anymore than I can control you. I can give you encouragement, but in the end, only you control your actions. I can encourage Jak to stop, even punish him if he does not, but the choice to stop is up to him.”
I hoped that he would take comfort in having control, even if it was only of himself, and begin to learn that was all he really could control.
“You are not in control of anything, or anyone, but yourself.”
Enter God, a few months later.
I am usually minding my own business when God decides to have a chat with me (for those of you who don’t have chats with God…um, yeah, I got nothing but a pych eval that says I’m not crazy). This time, however, I had been at a fundraiser for a local charitable organization trying to mind God’s business.
I like giving to this organization because that was where we got help when we were poor, and honestly, I don’t like handing money to someone on the street who may or may not buy booze with it.
At this point, God decided I needed clarification.
“Your responsibility is to give.”
“I didn’t tell you to take care of the deserving poor. I said to take care of the poor. You are not in control of what they do with what is given to them. That is their responsibility. Your responsibility is to give.”
I suddenly felt like Asher must have, getting my happy little control bubble burst. I’d like to say that I got it right away, but God had to expound on this idea of responsibility and control. While the idea spread to many topics (I’ll probably come back to those another time), the gist of the idea was as follows: I have a responsibility to act according to the way that God has shown me to act regardless of the actions of others. He expects me to be wise with what he has given me, but that doesn’t negate the command.
It is good to research an organization before giving, to be wise with God’s money, but if someone in that organization misuses the funds, they abused their responsibiltiy. I have a responsibility, regardless of my lack of control after I execute it. If I stop to give to someone and they smell of alcohol, I still have a responsibility to give. I will probably give food instead of money in that instance, but I am not to judge their condition and decide that God doesn’t want to take care of them.
“I have a responsibility
regardless of my lack of control
after I execute it.”
My default had been to give, if I felt God wanted me to. He showed me that my default needs to be give, unless he tells me not to.
Like Asher, the only thing I can control is myself, and 34 years into life, it is still a hard lesson.