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Giving Up Control February 29, 2012

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7

Lent Midweek 2

February 29, 2012

Focus: God, our Father and Creator, is in control of the universe.

Function: That the hearers trust their lives to God.

Structure: Here is a prevailing view…but this is the response of the gospel.


Giving Up Control


Just a few days before Christmas, a couple of neighbors decided to go out sailing together while their wives finished up the Christmas shopping.  While they were out in their boat, a storm blew in and the rains began.  The winds howled and sea became very angry, with the waves tossing them to and fro.  The men struggled desperately to keep their boat under control.  They continued to fight with the sail, attempting to maneuver their way toward land.

The sea had a different plan.  The boat hit a sandbar and they were grounded.  Both of the men jumped overboard and began trying to wedge the boat free.  They pushed and shoved with all their strength, trying to get the boat back into deeper water.  With his legs nearly knee-deep in the mud, the waves bouncing him against the side of the boat, his hair blowing wildly in the wind, one man called out to the other with a grin, “This sure beats Christmas shopping, doesn’t it?”

Control is a topic we’re all familiar with.  And we saw how Adam and Eve struggled with the temptation in the Garden of Eden.  God created them and He placed them together in the garden.  And it’s not like He had abandoned them there.  God walked among them in the Garden.  He was physically present in their midst.  He granted them not just life, but the very opportunity to walk with Him, talk with Him, and learn from Him.  God created them to be in a relationship with Him from the very beginning!  What a wonderful gift!

So what’s the problem?  The problem came when Satan slithered his way into the picture.  He tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And she failed.  The devil convinced her that by eating that fruit, she’d be like God, knowing good and evil.

It didn’t seem to matter to her that all she had to do was ask God about anything.  She had the chance to learn from the Creator of the universe Himself.  But instead, she thought she knew better and she decided to take life into her own hands.  She wanted control.  And Adam went right along with her.

Isn’t that how we are too?  We have this sinful idea in our heads that we are in control of our own lives.  And if you listen closely, you can hear some people talk about being in control of their own destiny or fate.  We want to be our own God.

We don’t want someone else telling us that our behaviors are wrong and sinful.  We don’t want someone bossing us around.  We don’t want someone telling us how we should live our lives.  We don’t want them reminding us when we fall short of their expectations.  We’d rather be in the driver’s seat, clutching the wheel.  If I want to go down this road or that one, it’s my choice.  Maybe I’d rather hang out in that dark alley instead.  But it’s up to me.

There are areas in each of our lives where we want to be in total control.  Think about the things in your own life that you want to control.  Maybe it’s money.  It’s not difficult to obsess over work, paying the bills, planning for college or retirement, or watching the dollar figures in your bank accounts go up, or down.

Maybe you’ve heard of or known someone who was controlling in a relationship.  They start to take over the other person’s life, telling them what to wear and eat, who they can and can’t spend time with.  They constantly manipulate the other person so that they’re needed.

Then there are those, even among Christians, who truly believe they control their own destiny, their own salvation.  If I just do enough good in this world.  If I can just tip that scale a little to side of good, I’ll be saved.  A little closer to home for us as Lutherans, switch out good works for right doctrine.  If we just believe all the right things, we’ll be saved.  We’re tempted to take Jesus out of the picture.

Whatever issues you have with control, when life goes well, it’s easy to forget about God.  It’s easy to leave the Creator out of it, to think that He created you and now just sits back and watches from a distance.  It’s easy to forget to thank God for the blessings that He gives.

And then the storm comes.  The stock market crashes, the car breaks down, and you’re buried in medical bills.  All of your relationships suddenly turn sour and no one seems to want to be around you.  And that temptation, that thorn in your flesh, just won’t go away.

As those men went sailing, they thought they were in control.  They could raise and lower the sail as they saw fit.  They could turn it to maneuver the boat to go left or right.  And when the storm came, they continued to battle against it, aiming and steering their little vessel toward land.

Storm or no storm, were they ever really in control?  If you take away the wind, how much control would they have?  Would they be able to go anywhere on their own?  What if you take away the movement of the water, or even the water itself?

That’s part of why it’s a fitting illustration today.  While the two men could steer, they could make some choices, they were never alone in the action.  God provided the waters which they sailed on and the winds which they rode.  When they decided to turn, the wind helped them along.

That’s a good picture of how the world works, how our lives work.  God doesn’t sit in heaven and act as a puppet master, constantly pulling the strings and directing our lives.  But at the same time, He doesn’t just sit by and do nothing in this world either.

We don’t control our own fate; we don’t get to choose to go to heaven.  But instead, when the storm of sin threw us overboard, God tossed over the life raft.  As it came over to where we were drowning, God’s own Son Jesus pulled us up out of the water into the raft.  We didn’t make the raft, nor do we steer it.  Jesus came to us.  He came down into this world to save us from ourselves and to return us to our Father and Creator.

We need to give up the idea of being in control.  As a sinner, you can be in complete control of your life, but even then, you really aren’t.  Because just when you think you control everything, you realize you’re on a one-way road to hell.  If you’re filled with anger, then anger will control your life.  If you’re filled with greed, then greed dominates your thoughts and motivates all that you do.  If you’re constantly living in lust, then lust governs your body and mind.  But if you’re filled with love, then love influences everything you do.  So if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is in control of your life.

But, I need to expound on that just a little, so you don’t start thinking puppet master again.  See, God has given each and every one of you gifts, talents, and knowledge.  Maybe you could be a banker or an accountant.  Maybe it’s between teaching and working with youth.  Perhaps it’s the choice between being an athlete or a politician.  Whichever you road choose, God will work through it in your life.  It’s the same when you hear people talk about soul mates.  God didn’t hand pick one person for you like He did Adam.  There are any number of combinations of people that would make for a good husband and wife team.  Certainly don’t wait around for that perfect match, because they don’t exist outside of Christ.

We could go on and on about the decisions we make in our lives.  But it all boils down to what Paul said to the Corinthians, “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  The Spirit of God is truly in each and every one of you and He will work through you for the benefit of His kingdom.  So when it comes to the question of control, give it up.  Don’t micro-manage everything in life so that you’re constantly worrying about things in the future.  Live in the moment.  Trust in God to take care of you both in this world and in the time to come through the gift of forgiveness and life that He has given to you in His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.



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