“you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.”-Daniel 4:32
It is one thing to understand, on an intellectual level, we humans are not really in control of our lives. I may find it easy to say, “I just do my part and leave the results up to God.” But my heart and spirit aren’t so easily convinced! In fact, in those moments when my life seems to be spinning beyond my ability to regulate or even comprehend what is happening, are when my heart, spirit, and mind all give in to fear and grasping.
One of the lessons you learn in training to be a lifeguard, is to “Go with support.” The last resort to save a drowning swimmer is to swim out and attempt a one-on-one rescue. The danger comes from the drowning swimmer’s fear and their desperate grasping. In that moment when they realize their absolute loss of power over their situation, a person’s fear takes over and they reach, claw, and clamp on to anything they can. Lifeguards learn to have a support device to keep between themselves and the panicked swimmer. A loss of control and the fear of death will cause what Solomon calls, “grasping for the wind.”-Ecclesiastes 1:14 (NKJV). If you are a lifeguard without a support device, what is grasped may be your own neck!
We all have situations in our lives which demonstrate our lack of true control over our fortunes. In those uncertain times, fear can capture our hearts. The only way to live a life free of fear is to let go of anything we are afraid to lose. This is the secret behind Jesus’ statement in Matthew chapter 16, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”-v25.
There is little doubt that we don’t take that statement as literally as we should. But the more we do the less fear we will have. In the song, Me and Bobby McGee, Kris Kristofferson wrote, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” If something is more important in my life than serving Jesus as Lord, I am held captive. The sad reality is my imagined control over things and circumstances comes to be my master.
The verse quoted at the top of this article comes from the book of Daniel and an incident with king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Instead of thanking God for what he had in life, he looked out over his kingdom and declared, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”-Daniel 4:30. At that moment, God taught him a lesson about control and power. The king was driven from society until he learned to praise God for what he had given, and could take away.
Job was free to praise God even in his lowest moments because he saw the source of all the things he had in life: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”-Job 1:21. It is comforting to think, “I have everything under control.” until something happens which I can not. The fear that can overwhelm me in those moments isn’t really grounded in a loss of control, but in a proud heart that dared to say, “Is not this what I have made with my hands? It is mine!”
God did not put me here to accumulate “stuff” and build bigger barns to collect more of it. Everything is a gift from God to be used for his glory. I have a duty to do my part in earning a living, raising my children, and serving the body of Christ to which I have joined myself. But God is in charge of the results. What he sees fit to build up or tear down, I entrust to his divine wisdom. Come what may, praise God for the day!