30 October, 2015

Trust and Control, are they opposites?*

Three days ago I lay face-down on the masseur's table thinking about trust. What does it mean to trust God? Especially, what does it mean to trust God with my kids?

Trust . . . I trust a chair when I sit on it. I don't usually check the joints before I sit on it. I trust the electricity and the gas. I just switch the switches or turn the taps and expect that they'll work. When they don't, I'm surprised. (I do live in Japan.)

As the masseur stretched out the sore muscles in my shoulders I pondered how trusting God is different to the trust I place in objects and services around me.

The difference is that a chair has no will, nothing changes about a chair. There is a simplicity about it that makes it relatively easy to trust.

That's different when it comes to trusting people . . . or God. 

Trusting people is hard because they aren't perfect, and they live in a world that isn't perfect. I trust my husband will wash up the dishes after dinner, but sometimes he's too busy, or too distracted, or even not present because of work. Occasionally he's too sick. But I do trust him more than I trust my kids. He's proven he is trustworthy.

My boys are 10, 13, and 16. They are more inconsistent than my husband. I still need to check up on them, to remind them, and direct them.

But God. Trusting God is really hard. That's not because he's inconsistent, like my kids, but because he's intangible. And he's not predictable.

The masseur moved on to my tight lower back and I remembered Aslan from Narnia. That famous quote: 
[Susan said:]"Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
Trusting God is hard because he isn't safe. We don't know what he will do. But we do have his reassurance that he loves us and will not allow us to be separated from him.
Romans 8: 31b-32, 38-39 "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? . . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,  neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
My dilemma with trusting God with my kids is all tied up with control. What I want is control. My thinking has been going along these lines: If I can "make them" do their assignments, to study, to fulfil their responsibilities at school I am doing all I can to make sure they have a chance to reach their potential.

The problem is that not only is it impossible to control my kids, it is impossible to make them do exactly what I want them to do, it is impossible. But I don't want to admit that. 

I was always a conscientious student (to the point of my report card comments being boringly repetitive). Now I am a conscientious parent. Not only do I hate to see my kids being less than conscientious but I hate feel that I've not done enough. I can't give up thinking that if only I'd done this or that they may have succeeded.

So where do I draw the line between trusting God for my kids and their future and seeking to be true to my conscientious nature? Where is the line when my conscientiousness becomes controlling?

I'm still learning and growing. But I think that trust is the opposite to control. If I trust my chair I don't feel the need to control it while it's doing its job. If I trust my husband I feel no need to control what he does. Then . . . if I trust God I need to release my struggle to control him. If I trust God to look after my kids then I need to walk away from seeking to control them.

Hudson Taylor's son Howard once commented on his dad, 
“He prayed about things as if everything depended upon the praying . . . but he worked also, as if everything depended on his working.” http://omf.org/us/about/our-story/quotes/#sthash.8nJZv8sr.dpuf 
This year we celebrated 150 years since beginning of our mission. Hudson Taylor was our founder. He said this on the day he decided to start the mission that is now OMF: 
Brighton, 25 June 1865: “All at once came the thought – If you are simply obeying the LORD, all the responsibility will rest on Him, not on you! What a relief!! Well, I cried to God –You shall be responsible for them, and for me too!”#
He was speaking about China, but the same applies to our kids. Simply obey the Lord. He bears the responsibility. It is very different to trusting the masseur table I lay on earlier this week. But the same principle applies. Don't be always wondering if that chair, table, or switch will work. Simply sit, lie, or turn it on. 

Don't always be wondering if God's got the situation under his control. Pray and tell him about it and about your concerns. Then trust and do what you've got to do—being mindful of what he's quietly saying to you while you're doing it.

*This is in response to a writing theme prompt for this week on Velvet Ashes' The Grove, an online community of Christian women serving overseas.

#A.J. Broomhall.Hudson Taylor and China’s Open Century, Book Three: If I Had a Thousand Lives. London: Hodder and Stoughton and Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1982, 454.


Michele Womble said...

"If I trust God to look after my kids then I need to walk away from seeking to control them."

I've been thinking a lot about this the last several weeks, especially as I've been reading Mark 3:20-21 - and pondering Jesus's family members coming to "take charge" of Him....in spite of all that Mary knew and stored up in her heart -

Trusting an "unpredictable" God (whom I cannot control) to work in and lead and call my kids - (whom I also cannot control) -

A little scary. But. I've been praying that they will be His. And to be His, they have to learn to follow His leading themselves - not my prompting to follow His leading (or what I would like to think I know is His leading for their lives) (if that makes sense).

Wendy said...

Thanks Michelle, what you're saying makes sense. I think it is more that just a little scary! But that is my lack of faith talking. We have an enormous God who loves our kids more than we do and has more power to help them than we do...I keep forgetting that he's actually more trustworthy than I am. Please forgive my unbelief Father!

Michele Womble said...

I'm praying that when they start doing things that look crazy to me, I'll be able to recognize God's calling on them and trust them with Him and Him with them....(unless what they're doing really is just crazy and not part of God's call on their lives...oh for wisdom and discernment! and trust...)