Do you know what a control freak is? "Merriam-Webster Online" defines control freak as a person whose behavior indicates a powerful need to control people or circumstances in everyday matters. And lest we get the idea that this is a good thing, "The Free Dictionary.Com" refers to it as a derogatory term often associated with insecurity or a lack of trust.
Even with this knowledge, many self-avowed control freaks almost proudly claim this moniker for themselves. I used to claim it myself until I came across a T-shirt that made me cringe. On the front of it were two simple words: "Control Freak." On the back of the T-shirt was the following sentence: "There is no need to control others as long as they shut up, listen and do exactly as I say."
This statement is bad enough when applied to our everyday relationships. But, it is particularly telling for Christians when we apply it to our lack of trust in our relationship with God.
My son, David, helped me to learn this lesson many years ago. David was born with congenital cataracts. By the time they were diagnosed, he was 4 years old. The pediatric ophthalmologist recommended cataract surgery, which had some serious risks for children. Unlike cataract surgery on an adult, there was no assurance that David's eyes would improve as he aged and they developed. In fact, they could actually get worse, possibly leading to complete blindness. After much prayer, we scheduled the surgery, believing that the operation would give him the best chance for a normal life.
By the time we got to the hospital on the day of the surgery, I was a nervous wreck. What if the surgery was unsuccessful? What if David's vision was worse? What if he went completely blind? About two hours prior to the surgery, they took David and us back to a surgery prep room. There, in between nurses asking surgery-related questions and getting David ready, I played cards with him. His favorite card game was "War." For the entire two hours, we played and played, me with my stomach churning with nervous anxiety and David laughing and playing with the carefree joy of a child.
Near the end of those two hours, just prior to the surgery, as I watched David's relaxed demeanor and exuberant delight, God impressed an important spiritual lesson upon me. My son didn't seem to have a care in the world. The reason for this was because he so trusted me, his father, to do the right thing for him. David didn't have to worry about his upcoming surgery.
If he could trust me as his father so easily, why couldn't I also trust my heavenly Father?
As God brought to my mind the words of that "Control Freak" T-shirt I had once seen, I realized that my lack of trust was shouting to God, "There is no need to control you, Lord, as long as you shut up, listen and do exactly as I say."
With moisture in my eyes, I finally yielded complete control to God, as I prayed silently, "Lord, I place David in the palm of your hand knowing that's the best place for him."
To this day, whenever I catch myself trying to control God again, I simply think back to a little boy's carefree trust for what was a very successful surgery that day.
Doug Stockton is the senior pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Janet Gossett at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if a Thoughts of Faith column is written at the writer's convenience and sent to The Times, it will run the first available date.