I recently finished a book that was so practical and inspiring that I wanted to blog about it! It’s entitled Control Girl- Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible by Shannon Popkin. The author shares both her personal struggle with being controlling and gives examples and lessons from several Old Testament women for us to learn from.
The book really lends itself to being studied together in a small group so I contacted a friend who suggested some others and our book group was formed. The book, along with the Bible verses and discussion questions made it an easy format to lead the group. More than that though was the deep personal application that all of us were able to come away with through studying it. I thought I’d share some of it with you in hopes that there are a few other “control girls” out there that may benefit from it.
What is a “Control Girl” anyway? Well, instead of trusting in and surrendering to God, control girls respond with anger or anxiety along with controlling behaviors and words. The author asks these questions for us to consider: “What do I crave having control over? What do I fear losing control of?” (Anxiety) and “What am I trying to control? Am I angry because I’ve lost control of something?” (Anger)
For me, my response is mostly that of anxiety. I crave control over circumstances that feel out of control and I also tend to care WAY too much what others think of me. I’m the queen of “What if…?” What if I fail? What if they get mad at me? What if I don’t get the job? What if I make a mistake? What if I get cancer? What if they reject me? I crave control over people’s opinions of me, perfection in myself, and a life filled with ease and happiness.
(1) O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. (2) But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (3) O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. — Psalm 131
Have you ever felt as ‘helpless as a baby’? Is your life completely under your control? Or, have you found that this world will throw all kinds of trials, trouble, and tribulations at you, sometimes all at once! And yet, as Christians, we are called to weather the troubles and consider them all joy. How is this? How are we supposed to attain this perspective of peace in the midst of the hardships of this life?
Any fruit lovers out there? I am a fruit lover. I eat all kinds of fruit all the time. Whenever I eat fruit, there is something that rises up in me and says, “God. is. awesome.” Pineapple is my favorite. In the Saltzmann house, we have chopping pineapple down to an art. But typically we eat the thing as fast as we chop it. Then there are blueberries. Then apples. Then mangos. What about kiwi? I’ll eat just about any fruit you send my way.
The Lord is very much interested in fruit as well. It’s a metaphor used all through the Bible for the productivity of God’s people. In the New Testament, we read that the Lord is concerned to produce the fruit of Christlikeness in our lives. He knows we cannot produce it on our own. So it comes by the power of the Holy Spirit.
According to Galatians 5, as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit, He will help us overcome sin. Then He will produce His fruit in our lives. This fruit will come in the form of nine attractive, healthy, life-giving character qualities.
I’d like to provide a reminder of these 9 different qualities spoken of as the fruit of the Spirit. I’ll give a few works of explanation for each one. Along the way, be asking yourself if this fruit is evident in your life. I pray you’ll have a longing for it and the Spirit will bring it!
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.” Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-16a
I recently heard a story about “bummer lambs.” These lambs are those who, for a variety of reasons, are rejected by their mothers. It can be due to the mother being old or ill. Sometimes she has twins and is unable to feed all of her babies. In any case, these lambs will die without care from their shepherd. The shepherd takes the lamb into his home and bottle feeds and cares for it until it’s strong enough to return to the flock. Once it returns, whenever the shepherd calls the sheep, the bummer lambs run first to their shepherd. The story that was shared talked about how we are all “bummer lambs” and that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, saves, feeds and cares for us just like a shepherd does with his sheep.
“…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Is. 40:31)
We live in a day and age when our greatest desires are only a click away. You can even order toilet paper online and receive it with free shipping only a day or two later! “Why wait when you can have it now,” seems to be the motto of the hour (or minute). Our lack of patience is even catered to in the grocery store where if there are three people in a line a bell is rung or a call put out and suddenly another teller is taking guests. Why wait for that house, that job, that marriage? Is there good reason to learn patience when there seems to be little need for it anymore?
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
When Christ came into the world, it was not his aim to “strike the right balance” between grace and truth.
Maybe we think it’s necessary to aim for 50% grace and 50% truth. There should be an equal portion of both. But some people tend to lean to one side or the other. Some of us have lots of grace. We are 70% grace and 30% truth so we end up cutting people too much slack. We’re too nice for their own good, growth or accountability. Some of us stress truth. We are 20% grace and 80% truth and end running people over with our words.
That way of looking at the grace/truth paradox is cast out the window when it comes to Jesus and those who desire to follow Jesus.
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back.
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.
Like Bilbo’s adventure in The Hobbit, parenting is an adventure that no one can fully explain to you with good reason. Every adventure is different and if someone could possibly explain what you were facing then you may not even want to start a family. Being a parent has grown me, both as a believer and as a human being. There are things that God has taught me about Himself, my husband, and myself through this adventure called parenting.
Death. Disease. Despondency. Everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike experiences, or eventually will experience, these things. One cannot live a day without hearing of mass violence around the globe due to ongoing wars, gang violence and natural disasters.
What is the common factor here? Humanity. Scripturetells us that sin entered the human race through the fall of one man, Adam, and that disease and death are the result. Everyone is by nature in sin. We desire to sin. This is evidenced from toddlers on up to adults.
We also know that sin leads to death, as we read in Romans, “For the wages of sin is death.” Death – separation from our body and separation from the God who created us.
When was the last time someone offended you? What was your knee-jerk reaction in response to what was done? I remember one evening playing board games with my family and in the heat of the moment, everything was moving in my favor as I was poised to win. Now I need to add that a $5 gift card was at stake in this particular game with family, and so immediately my mind began to gravitate toward ways I would be enjoying what would soon be my prize for winning the game.
Then it happened. As luck would have it, the tables turned and I was knocked back to a guaranteed loser’s position and my opponent was hoisted to victory. Now if the story had ended there perhaps there would be no need to write this blog.