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Steve’s Inabilty to Control. And Ours, Too.

March 15, 2019

[QUICK REVIEW: This is really part three of a long piece Presbyterian Steve Davis wrote that’s so good I gotta share it with you. If you missed the first two parts, scroll down and catch up…you’re worth the effort.]

Steve continues —

My friend Tal Prince says that he gave up making resolutions because it became apparent to him that he didn’t have the ability to keep them. So instead of making resolutions, he now makes relinquishments. That really is the key to giving up control. It’s intentionally relinquishing everything to God, doing what you can do, and then leaving it alone.

When you relinquish control, really good things happen in life and in poker. For instance, you can risk. The problem with most of us is that we spend way too much of our time worrying that we’ll say the wrong thing, not be good enough, offend people, make a tragic mistake, lose everything, or get hurt, etc., so we become paralyzed. You should never play poker if you can’t afford to lose. Only those who risk ever win and only those who risk are able to deal with losing. That’s also true of the Christian walk.

For instance, when one relinquishes control, you can walk away when you need to walk away. That great theologian and metaphysician, Kenny Rogers, sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em and know when to walk away.” Frankly, there are some problems that don’t have any solutions, some messes that can’t be cleaned up, some people who can’t be changed, some sins with which we will always struggle, and some walls that are just too high to climb.

There’s a strange kind of relief in doing all you can, knowing it’s all you can do, and then leaving it alone. Only a believer can do that because a believer knows that God is in control and we aren’t.

There’s one other upside to relinquishing control. It’s the discovery that God is good all the time and he knows what he’s doing (or in the case of poker, the dealer doesn’t cheat). That’s the only possible reason Paul could say in 2 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” That’s crazy!

Well, it’s crazy…unless every circumstance in life is under the sovereign God who creates, rules, and sustains all that is (Romans 11:33-35). It may seem unfair, uncomfortable and hard to swallow, but asking and receiving from God the kind of faith that affirms his sovereignty creates a very powerful prayer: “Father, I don’t understand you, but I trust you.”

When Anna and I were dating in college, I didn’t have two dimes to rub together. I couldn’t afford dinner, a movie, or sometimes even an ice cream cone. Our dates were often no more than just walking around campus and talking. I used to say to Anna that I was sorry I couldn’t afford more. She said to me then (and a good many other times subsequent to college), “Steve, I don’t care where we go as long as I’m with you.”

Giving up control—thus enjoying vacations, Christmas and church—is saying to a loving God, “I don’t care where we go, what we do, or how long it takes, as long as I’m with you.” But it’s more profound than that. It’s the way we’re called to deal with the heavy stuff—past issues of abuse, a diagnosis of cancer, failure, divorce, a bad marriage, financial disaster, and even our struggle with sin. It’s relinquishment. That’s the key to life and poker.

I just realized that what I wrote sounds so bleak. It really isn’t.

As a matter of fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s the source of joy, laughter and freedom; getting a better night’s sleep; and in my case, being far less grumpy than I am.

And don’t forget the rest of the story.

For a Christian, there is always the rest of the story.

See why I like this guy?

Okay, time for some application: where are you starting today to practice this spiritual discipline of relinquishment?

And okay, it’s probably not going to go perfectly.

And that’s okay.

Need a reminder? Reread what Steve wrote.

And be thankful!

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