Rethinking Our Need for Control

By Rebe McReynolds, Feb 22, 2018

I’ve been thinking about how often Jesus lived His life around crowds, gave Himself to His disciples, and poured out His teaching to all who would hear. He opened his arms to children, gave water to the thirsty, fed the hungry, healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, ate meals with strangers. And every time, He received people—lots and lots of people. His entire life was full; not of solitude and centeredness, but of lots and lots of sick, dirty and lost people; of sacrifice, and what I believe must have been earthly chaos.

The new year brings with it thoughts of how we need to rearrange ourselves to be more centered, or more balanced. On my most recent trip to the U.S. I heard friends talk about their “need for more time,” how “life is getting away from them,” how they just “need to gain control of all these things.” Why do we think we can get control of time, our life, our spouse’s life or the lives of our children? We just can’t.


Sometimes I wonder about how we allow the world to tell us how we can control our lives.

We have control of many digital, automated, and mechanical things, and these things are helpful tools. We can do research, keep track of our calendar, book a vacation, organize family photos, scroll through the daily news, and communicate on social media. Those things we can control in our world.

How does this sense of control affect our personal lives and family?

Control should not be the goal
When we believe that “having control” is something that can be attained in this life, then we fall into a trap of believing that our lives are out of control. But our lives are not digital devices, and we are allowed to have a life that is hectic, often out of order, or that is smack dab in the center of earthly chaos because, the truth is, we are.

We are told by the world that we can find centeredness and balance by following a certain program or moving our body in this way or that. And while there are great benefits to many of these programs, none of them will be lasting. We are conditioned into believing that control is within our reach.


In Madagascar I live in a context where there is no such thing as alone time; where finding anything close to centeredness happens in the company of lots and lots of people, and finding that inner quietness would possibly be the state of death (sorry, but that’s the truth). My life in this little fishing village is far from everything I want or desire, oceans away from complete, not what I would call balanced, and living and working here is a sacrifice that leaves me exhausted, hungry, dirty, and thirsty every day.

I’m allowed to be “totally spent” with people here, and be completely me (at least the Sakalava version of me); maybe listen in, maybe not listen so well; tune in and tune out; present, but absolutely tired. Sometimes I track with what people are saying, and sometimes I’m totally lost, and that’s OK. American culture is hard in that we don’t allow ourselves enough room and space to be what we are in each moment—whether we’re sick, daydreaming, confused, worn-out, sad, guilty, depressed, or whatever it is (but that’s just another blog post).


How can we rethink the thoughts that tell us we need “more time,” “more quiet,” “more balance,” and consider Jesus, His work, and the crowds?

Jesus can relate to the messy, sick, wandering, thirsty, out of whack, unbalanced, dreaming, tired, angry, chaotic, sad, empty, lost people.

Yes, you can get rid of or add to the things in your life that you are able to control, and at times that might be helpful. But in our personal lives it will always come down to Christ or no Christ. The program is to become more like Jesus. Becoming more dependent, learning to trust more, and letting go in the midst of the earthly chaos. Knowing and believing in your mind, heart, and action that He is the center. He is the balance. He is everything!

Perhaps you should go into your crowded chaos and see what happens.

Blessings to my lonely, sick, tired, unbalanced, and messy friends.

Rebe McReynolds serves with MTW in Madagascar

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