“I’m not worried. I know you’ll make it happen.”
When these words were said to me recently, I knew they were meant as a compliment, but something about them upset me. I had just expressed concern over the magnitude of a task I had taken on- something I absolutely felt called to, but which was going to demand a significant amount of time and effort. I had been hoping for some help in reducing other responsibilities to allow for this, but it seemed that was considered unnecessary. I was meant to do it all. I was meant to “make it happen.”
And the frustrating thing is: I know I will. If I have committed to something, if I have a deadline, if someone is depending on me, I will make it happen. I’ll do what it takes.
I sometimes wish that being responsible and reliable didn’t mean so much pressure and such high expectations all the time, but I also know a lot of it is my own fault because I like to be in control. It’s far too easy to take on responsibility for everyone and everything, and to feel like it all depends on me, believing that if I don’t do it, it won’t be done (at least not properly).
If you relate to any of this, I encourage you to check out Jennifer Dukes Lee’s latest book “It’s All Under Control.”
I certainly found it reassuring to know that I’m not alone in this struggle, and to recognise that living in a culture that encourages self-sufficiency is one of the reasons why many of us find it difficult to fully hand control over to God.
“We’ve become so scarily self-sufficient- even as Christians. We say we trust in God, but we don’t actually rely on him.”
Often we like to see the path ahead, to know the steps we should take and to have a guarantee over the outcome. This is how the world around us would encourage us to live, but it is not what Jesus offers.
“We ask for a map to deal with all of this, but instead Jesus gives us a compass and says, “Follow me.””
Surrender is sometimes spoken of as signing our name to a blank piece of paper, then handing it over to God to complete as he wishes, but I was definitely challenged by how much I related to the description of an alternative approach:
“I know that I’ve done otherwise: Instead of a blank piece of paper, I have given him long lists of instructions and deadlines.”
While it is convicting, the book is also encouraging, acknowledging that there are often good motives behind our desire to take control- it’s because we care or because we want to look after others and make them happy.
While we need to be aware that pride can masquerade as love at times, Jennifer also encourages us that reliability and dependability are positive traits and that they are not something to be “fixed” but they are part of our God-given personality, that God wants us to give them to him not so we become passive, but so that we can partner with him in the work he is doing.
The book is also full of helpful practical advice, acknowledging that we can’t just let go of all our responsibilities, that surrender goes a lot deeper than “just give it all to Jesus.”
“Spiritual surrender is more complex than any Christian platitude. And it’s far more uncomfortable.”
There are exercises to help with evaluating and prioritising responsibilities, making time for rest and learning to ask for help.
I also appreciated the acknowledgement that sometimes we let go of control and surrender to God and it doesn’t turn out as we hope or expect. We step out in faith to do something challenging and are left wondering why. I have certainly been there, but I was encouraged by the exhortation to trust that God sees the big picture, to believe that he is often at work in ways which are unseen to us, which may make sense one day, either on earth or in heaven.
Hebrews 12:1 states that as we run the race of faith we should “strip off every weight that slows us down” (NLT) and this book provides valuable help in doing this in the area of control, encouraging us in the reality that:
“It’s all under control, but that control is not mine.”
and encouraging us to:
“Take God off our to-do list and hand the whole thing over to him.”
I’m grateful to Tyndale House Publishers and Netgalley for access to a complementary digital copy of this book. This is an honest review and I only share books here that I believe will genuinely be beneficial to my readers.
Amazon links are not affiliate links, but simply provided for your convenience.