If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. Matthew 16:25 NLT
If you were being really honest, would you say that most of your prayers sound something like this:
“God, please let me have my own way. Please give me an easy life, with not too many challenges, one that I can handle just fine with a few encouraging Bible verses thrown in!”
If you said yes, you’re in good company! But God loves His own too much to answer this prayer. He loves us too much to allow us to continue pretending that He is the Lord of our lives while we tightly clench the steering wheel.
“When we choose to stay in control, we are, in effect, choosing to be controlled by someone or something other than God,” says Cynthia Heald in her book, Journey to the Heart of God. “…although it seems safe and logical to be in charge of your life, being in charge becomes a heavy, lonely responsibility,” Yes, trying to play god of our own lives is indeed, a heavy responsibility.
Often, we not only want to try to mastermind our own destinies but also those of others, those whom we love. Parents are specialists in this. A mother by the name of Rebekah in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, tried hard to orchestrate the life of her son, Jacob. Even though Rebekah had seen God supernaturally arrange the details of her own life—you can read that amazing story in Genesis chapter 24, Rebekah still thought she had a better plan than God did.
Rebekah was wife of Isaac and the mother of their twin sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau had been born first, and was his father’s rightful heir but Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite. One day when Isaac was old and going blind, he called for Esau to come to him for his blessing. But Rebekah got wind of this, took things into her own hands and put her plan into action. While Esau was away, she prepared her husband’s favorite stew that Esau was known for making. She gave it to Jacob and covered Jacob’s arms and neck with the skin of young goats so that he would feel like his hairy older brother when his nearly blind father embraced him for the blessing. The trick worked. Jacob received the blessing that should have gone to Esau and from then on, a legacy of deceit would plague Jacob’s life.
Usually, as we try to “save” our lives with our own manipulative plans and “help” those close to us save their lives as well, we end up losing. Holding everything together on our own becomes harder and harder until it’s difficult to even breathe. Have you been there? “Your Father graciously offers to take your life, protect you, strengthen you and comfort you on your journey,” Heald writes.
God waits and woos us to come to the place where we release the death grip we have on our own lives, and the lives of those we love. The giving up, the surrender, might not happen in a day, but if we ask, God will slowly help us loosen that grip, until our hands are raised to Him. It is necessary for us to learn, as author Corrie ten Boom did, to “hold everything in our hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
On the other side of surrender to God there is a lightness and a quietness to His work in our lives, so unlike our frantic ways. What a relief it is to leave the responsibility of control for both our lives and the lives of those we love, to Him! If you’re not there yet, ask Him to draw you into that place of peace today.
Resource reading: Proverbs 3:1-8
 Heald, Cynthia. A Woman's Journey to the Heart of God (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1997), 27.
 McDaniel, Debbie, "40 Powerful Quotes from Corrie Ten Boom." Crosswalk.com. May 21, 2105. http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-powerful-quotes-from-corrie-ten-boom.html, accessed November 30, 2016.