Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Who's In Control?

          Who do you think is in control of your life? Be honest now. Let’s see, how many of you have made any plans for what you’re going to do today or tomorrow or next week or this winter when it’s cold and snowy outside or maybe you’re one of those long range planning people and you’ve already made your plans for next summer?
          James talks about keeping our tongues under control. In fact after hearing his message it sounds as if it’s almost impossible to do. Maybe some can but there’s not many folks who haven’t said things that the moment the words were spoken they wanted to take them back, and then it’s too late. I imagine we’ve all been there. I know I have; more times than I’d like to admit.
          So, the question for us today is, what do we do? The answer, my friends, is in the gospel lesson from Mark. What was it Jesus said? “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I amFollow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all.”
          That’s the answer to our dilemma. We keep thinking we’re the ones in control, of our lives, our destinies, our families, our careers, and we keep mucking it up. There are so many examples in life that we could look at.
          For example, riding a bicycle, we try and we try and it’s when we finally relax and just kind of let it all balance itself out that the riding becomes easy, almost second nature. We can jump on and go without thinking about how it’s staying upright.
          Swimming’s another example. We can’t even float until we learn to let go of the tension in our muscles and relax. We have to believe that the water can support us. We have to have faith that we won’t sink like a rock when we give control to the water.
          Life is easier and we are less anxious when we let go of the reins and let the One who’s really got the plan take over. But how do we do that? How to get our fingers pried off the steering wheel or the handle bars or the tiller? How can we know for sure that that’s the best thing for us?
          Well, it goes back to what I said earlier, we have to believe that following Jesus’ lead is the right thing to do. We have to have faith that he really is the One in control. We have to trust what we can’t see. The first step is ours. We have to make the decision that that’s what we’re going to do. We have to let go first and let Jesus lead.
          The problem we all have is we like being in control. We like being the ones making the decisions…and we are afraid that following Jesus is going to be painful. After all he does mention suffering and sacrifice and we don’t like the sound of those words. We don’t like pain and we can’t imagine living without our things.
          Is that what He meant? What do you think? Do we have to live like our brothers and sisters who own nothing and live in rooms with just the bare necessities? Is Jesus saying that we have to cash in our retirement accounts and use them to buy food and clothes and shelter for the least of these? What do you think?
          Friends, I think it comes back to the first question, “What controls our lives? What or who controls our decisions? Those are the questions we have to answer for ourselves.
          I don’t think we’re going to arrive at an answer or a solution to our questions here today. This is something that we need to spend some time with and listen for God’s voice to direct us.
          As I said the first step is ours to take. After that, after we’ve invited Jesus into our hearts, then we can begin to relax the tension and get on with the work God has called us to.
          Friends, it’s still not easy but God never promised that our lives would be easy.  It’s the reward that’s waiting for us on the other side that we’re striving for, eternal life with our Savior, Jesus, the Christ.
          Maybe that’s hard for us to imagine but God and his omnipotence is too much for us to get our heads around so what makes us think that we can begin to imagine what eternity with God will be like.
          As Jesus and James told us today it’s all about control, us letting go and Jesus taking over.  May it be so.
            Thanks be to God for his patient grace. Amen.

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