In the spring of 1980, a series of earthquakes and small eruptions drew the attention of people living in the Pacific Northwest. Scientists and sightseers were drawn to Mount St. Helens. Steam vents, tremors and hot spots appeared almost daily.
Then on May 18, a 5.1-magitude earthquake shook the mountain. For a few seconds the north flank seemed to ripple, then broke loose and began sliding downhill as a massive avalanche. Eruption plumes shot up as quickly as 600 miles an hour. The blast traveled as a hot, churning mass of gas, rock, ash and ice. More than 50 people were killed or reported missing after the blast, and the eruption devastated 235 square miles.
The eruption of Mount St. Helens was a tragedy. It's also a powerful reminder that there are forces in this world over which we have no control. Even when the best scientific minds and equipment were keeping watch over the mountain, they could not predict what was going to happen next.
It's the same way in our lives. Despite our best efforts and knowledge and abilities, there are some events and circumstances over which we have no control. We can't control the stock market, which dictates how well our money might perform. We can't control another person's thoughts and feelings, which dictate how strong our relationships might be. And even if we eat right and exercise regularly, we can't completely control our health. Accidents, disease and illness still happen.
When we act as though we CAN control events, circumstances and people, we make a huge mistake. Control is another form of selfishness. Trying to control shows that we've replaced our trust in God with faith in ourselves. But that kind of faith always results in failure.
Let's look at the struggle for control another way.
Have you ever spent time with 2-year-olds? Some of their favorite phrases are "mine," "no" and "I do it." They want to be independent. They think they know what they're doing. They have faith in their developing skills, abilities and judgment. Sometimes that streak of independence is frustrating to parents who have to wait as the child struggles to climb in and out of a car seat by himself. Sometimes it is dangerous. No matter how smart or capable a 2-year-old is, he should not play with the stove or try to cross the street by himself.
But children persist in testing the limits of their independence. For instance, there's the little one who uses the kitchen drawers as a ladder to climb up to the counter. Like a kitten caught up in a tree, he gets stuck in a situation he's not equipped to handle. And only then does he start to worry about how he'll get down. Then comes the cry for help.
How often are we like that with God? Have you ever wanted to "do it yourself" rather than wait for Him? What happened?
I think all of us are tempted to rely on our own brains and brawn. But when we put our faith in ourselves, we lose sight of God's love and care. We're like that 2-year-old climbing onto the kitchen counter. Once we get stuck, we get scared, as the psalmist did: "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help" (Ps. 18:6, NIV).
Thankfully, we have the consolation of knowing that a power greater than ourselves can restore us—and will. "From His temple He heard my voice; My cry came before him, into His ears. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me" (vv. 6,19).
God wants to keep us safe. He doesn't do it out of a sense of obligation. He does it because He loves us. He delights in caring for us.
We have to trust God and let Him guide us, as the Scriptures command: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight" (Prov. 3:5-6). We have to hand Him our independence and our desire for control. We have to let Him take the reins of our lives in His hands.
Trust is not always easy. We've grown to like the beliefs and values of the world, even if we're filled with worry. We're in the habit of trusting ourselves, not God. We're comfortable with the lifestyle of work and worry that we've developed. But we must let go of worldly attitudes so we can firmly grasp God's hand. Then we can let Him lead us. We can stop trying to be in charge, give Him control of our lives and walk in trust and thanksgiving.
Adapted from "Rx for Worry: A Thankful Heart" by James P. Gills, M.D., copyright 2002. Published by Creation House Press. Are you consumed with worry about various aspects of your life? There is a cure! Read Dr. Gills' book to learn how to apply it to your situation. To order a copy click on this link.
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