“When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?(Acts 3:12)”

Control Issues:
     I’m a bit of a control freak. I’m a guy who likes to fix things. How about you? Know someone like me?

     No excuses, but here’s some background – due to some traumatic events experienced in my childhood that led to the subsequent divorce of my parents when I was still young, I developed a coping skill called “peacemaker”. It doesn’t qualify me to negotiate a permanent ceasefire between Palestine and Israel, it just means I lean toward fixing things, tend toward wanting everyone to bury their hatchets, and in my flesh have a very hard time letting things rest when interpersonal matters aren’t quickly reconciled. Not my favorite “all about me” conversation, you know? Ever spot these places where you try to control outcomes? Read along…

     When there’s a great deal of uncertainty – financially, relationally, raising three toddlers and a prodigal teen (or, as we call it “2013”) – I, in the flesh, have spent much energy trying to manage outcomes, maintain peace, juggle other peoples’ troubles, and tie up loose ends that aren’t mine to tie up. By the grace of God, I’m in discipleship ministry, which means for I living, I’m required to pastor and counsel other men to “trust God” and “live by the Spirit”. It’s hard to tell another guy “the Bible says we need to abide in Christ and deny ourselves” and then face the fact that I just failed to do the same 2 days or even 20 minutes ago. It’s a great set of checks and balances God has “installed” in my life to stop me in my tracks when I’m trying to manage outcomes. Praise God.

     Last week, my bride and I got more than a little “sideways” with each other. It was a tense 48 hours where I know, have counseled other men, and have been counseled myself to leave her alone to “let her process what’s eating” her rather than suit up in my Home Depot apron and try to fix her every problem… Most guys naturally lean away from grace and into performance in this situation anyway. How about you?

     Instead of taking advantage of multiple opportunities to give her some space, I got “manly” and repeatedly poked my head in and see how she was doing and offer up some unsolicited advice… Bad idea. Especially if you don’t like getting your fingers bitten. Worse if you’re poking a turtle and thinking you’ll get it to come out of its shell sooner. At one point, I finally obeyed God and sat down to dig through the Word for some peace and counsel.

Thus Sayeth the Lord?
     “Acts 3”. I heard the Lord prompting me there. Knowing that chapter pretty well, I resisted thinking – “that’s about Peter and John and boldly sharing your faith despite the consequences… That has nothing to do with what I’m going through right now.” Certain I had rebuked the voice of Satan, I reluctantly read the story of how the two disciples had come across a crippled guy begging for money. Instead of cash, they gave him a miracle, which landed them in the pokey overnight.

     But, this time, the story was a little different. When you spend more energy than God has called you to spend fixing up broken relationships, juggling other peoples’ problems for them, and tying up loose ends that aren’t yours to tie, you begin to take a lot of credit for any coincidentally peaceful outcomes. You begin to think you made the crippled beggar walk.

     Yet God, who is rich in mercy, was kind enough to remind me that the peace we’d been experiencing in our home, our ministry, and our marriage up to that point was not because by my “power of godliness [I’d] made this man [relationship/family/business/department] walk”. Listening to God when He leads you to scripture is vital. 

Back to the Right Path
     My pride could only stand in the way of the truth for so long. I confessed to Cristine that I had to just “let her go” and trust that God would bring her back around on His timing. I had said things to her earlier in anger and fear that a husband should never say to his wife. I was sure that the kind of retaliatory damage I’d inflicted would take at least 48 hours to process and there was a good chance she wouldn’t talk to me for a large chunk of that time.

     Yet, less than 48 minutes later, having surrendered her over to God, our crippled relationship was walking, dancing, and fully healed – without any help from Mr. Home Depot!

     Today, I urge you, beg you, exhort you – seek the Lord in this matter. Ask Him where you’re taking too much credit for those relationships, accomplishments, etc. around you that are working. Repent and hand them back to His more than capable hands. If they walk again, it is for His glory. If they stay crippled – it is for His glory, too, but you will grow in your dependence on Him. I want you to know the same awesome gratitude I had when God turned this around for me. But, it can only come by His power and in His mighty name.

Abiding with you,