Day 7 - Giving Up Control
It's been exactly one week since Jimmy left and I am just astounded at the wonderful things the Lord has been teaching me! I am full of gratitude today as I consider the great work He is doing in my heart. I am only sad it has taken me so long to willingly open up my heart to His gentle correction. I paused in the middle of my prayer time today to sit back and listen to the instrumental song playing in the background: the old hymn "Trust and Obey." Jimmy and I both greatly enjoy hymns because of their great theological lyrical content and I couldn't help but just meditate on the words as the melody played on.
But we never can prove the delights of His love Until all on the altar we lay; For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.
Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, Or we’ll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
This week has been an act of laying it all on the alter and truly seeking to have a heart that is trusting and obedient to the Lord in every aspect of my life. It was as I meditated on this hymn that I felt God bring to my attention an area in my life that has not come fully under the trust and obedience of Him: submitting to authorities.
As a believer, and specifically as a woman, the call of submission is of upmost importance. 1 Peter 2:13 calls me to "submit myself for the Lord's sake to every human institution" while Ephesians 5:21 says that a product of being filled with the Spirit is "submitting to other believers in reverence for Christ." It is a call placed on me as a believer and follower of Christ: to have a heart that is submissive.
I studied the greek word for submission a few years ago to see if I could get a fuller understanding of the word. It is the word hupotasso and literally means "under authority." No surprise there. A heart that is submissive is one that understands the authority it has been placed under and receives it with joy, understanding God's sovereignty in ordaining authority.
Similarly, I struggle with submission ultimately because I question the authority I am put under. I have seen this play out most often in the family authorities God has ordained: parents and husbands. As a child and now as a wife, I have most frequently questioned the authority of my parents and my husband. The 2 main reasons I struggle to submit in this area are fear and pride.
Let's start with fear. I am afraid to trust an imperfect human being. I have an easy time trusting God and coming under His authority because I know He is always doing things for my good and His glory and He is perfect. Even when I don't understand, I can trust this. But an imperfect human? No matter how good they may be, they still fail at times, and what if that failure affects me? What if I get hurt in the process?
The 2nd reason I resist submission is pride. I often feel that I can do the job better myself. Now maybe this is a result of being the oldest of four children, or maybe it's just my personality. Either way, in my arrogance, I judge myself as a better candidate to make decisions and lead than my authorities. The fear and the pride I have just described have lead to the following actions: manipulative control, or under-handed control. I know that it is wrong to take control over the authorities placed over me, so I convince myself that I'm not really being controlling. But the truth is, through manipulative statements, questions, and actions, I attempt to control the situation. And ladies, let's be honest, we are hopelessly controlling and manipulative without the grace of God, and are really good at using our emotions to get exactly what we want. I see it in myself every day. Let's stop making excuses for ourselves.
I repent of having a controlling heart.
The truth is, all of this starts in my heart. My heart is fearful and prideful and thus controlling, which results in manipulative, controlling actions. But what I long for is a heart that humbly trusts God's sovereign design in ordaining the authority in my life, resulting in a submissive and obedient life. While I struggle to have a trusting, submissive heart in many arenas of life (church leadership, my job, etc), the brunt of my struggle happens within the realm of my marriage. So today I began to read a few passages that call me as a wife to submit. As I studied Ephesians 5, I referenced Dr. Constable again and found some of his notes incredibly helpful. (You can get his commentary on the Bible at soniclight.com.)
"Submission," he states "is the proper response to sovereignly designed authority in the wife-husband relationship. It begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God. The focus of life must be on Jesus Christ. The ability to submit comes from Him. It requires respectful behavior and means developing godly character."
The bottom line: I need to give up control. Though it may feel much safer for me to be in control, it is disobedience to God and always results in strife in our marriage because I am grasping for an authority that has not been given to me. I need to trust God and His divinely-appointed authority in my life, including my husband. Jimmy may not be perfect and might not always get everything right, but God has seen it fit to place me under his care and I need to trust that He knows what He is doing. My lack of submission to the authority and leadership of my husband is at it's core disobedience to God. Likewise, submission to Jimmy is submission to God. So as I count down the days til Jimmy arrives home, I will be asking for God's grace to have a heart that is submissive and trusting. I have also begun to pray for our little Lively, that God will grant her a heart that is trusting and submissive to the authorities in her life, including us, her parents. May Jimmy's two favorite girls have hearts that recognize God's sovereignty and joyfully submit to Him in all areas of life, to the glory of God.