Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Cost of Control

It was a cloudless day in San Diego’s Mission Gorge area. The marine layer had burned off early and it was another beautiful day in paradise. My spirits were high, and I was overflowing with the love of God. It was Monday, but very different from the rest of my Mondays at work. After returning from a men’s retreat over the weekend, I was basking in the afterglow of God’s presence. Morning had arrived too early, but lack of sleep could not destroy my sense of joy. At the office, most of the team was off on assignment so I dug into routine items that needed my attention, avoiding serious stuff.

At lunch time I took a leisurely walk down Mission Gorge to the Soup Plantation restaurant and for soup and a salad. Grabbing a tray and an enormous salad platter, I fell into line behind two well-dressed men having a rather animated conversation about Jesus. They were joyfully proclaiming the greatness of God and His work in their lives. While talking between themselves, their volume was loud enough to be heard by most people in line.  After paying the cashier, they sat down at a table in a corner. A desire to stay near their joyful enthusiasm led me to take the table right next to them..

After they sat down,  prayed, and ate, there was a drastic change in their moods. The loud joyful praise turned into a serious, subdued discussion, and their countenance transformed.

Suddenly I wanted to crawl under the table or sneak away without being seen. But God had other plans. He had a lesson for me to learn, but it took several months for me to understand what I heard and saw. There was no voice or outward manifestation but deep within my spirit there was a sense as if the Lord said to me, 

“Pay attention, this is important, I want to teach you something.”

Seated about six feet away and slightly behind them, one man was facing toward me, while the other had his back to me. I was only getting one side of the conversation, but eerily I heard from the man with his back to me while I missed what the man facing me said. I realized these men were pastors and the one whose back was to me was seeking counsel from the man facing me. Hearing only one side of the conversation was strange but revealing. To this day, I remember the exact words spoken by the pastor with his back to me.

“I know now why my church is having so much trouble, the members do not submit to me as their pastor.”

After more discussion he made a second memorable declaration, “The trouble with my family results from my wife not submitting to me as her husband.”

Almost immediately, I sensed a different voice speaking to me from some-where inside of me, “This man does not submit to God.” 

Fresh from a spirit-filled weekend with other spirit-filled believers, I was ready for anything. Being shy, I avoid confrontation, but today, on this day, if need be, I could go to that man, point my finger in his face, and declare, “You are having these problems because you do not submit to God.”

Then I remembered the earlier words, 

“Pay attention, this is important, I want to teach you something.”

That incident occurred over 20 years ago, and I am still learning its lesson.  When we get insight from the Lord, we like to share it, even when it is just for us. That evening at a home group meeting, a lady complained about her financial problems. (She had financial issues for years.)

Armed with my noon-time revelation, it compelled me to share my insight, “You are having financial problems because you have not submitted your finances to God.”

The woman’s face turned purple with anger and my wife looked at me as if I had just committed the unpardonable sin.

The meeting ended abruptly, but there was no escaping the woman’s wrath. She was our neighbor and was our ride home.

I had several more opportunities to give away my new insight but decided not to share. Then one day, unexpectedly, it hit me. Rita and I were driving up Balboa Avenue on our way to lunch when a light bulb lit up my mind. Slamming the dashboard with my right hand must have scared Rita, as I shouted, “I finally got it!” 

God protects that that belongs to Him. What does not belong to Him, He is not as much inclined to protect.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [James 4:7 (NKJV)]

The lesson God had been trying to teach me was now clear. The enemy of our soul is able to attack us in the areas of our lives that we have not submitted to God.

It is as if we are under God’s umbrella of protection as long as we let Him be in control, but when we tell Him that we would rather do it our way, He may back away and say, “Okay, go for it.” 

That is where we get in trouble - not submitting ourselves to God.

The word "Submission" evokes images of abuse and the sense of becoming a doormat. Yet both the Old and New Testaments show there are great benefits in submitting to God.[1]

The word translated as “submission” in the NT means to place or arrange under like products arranged on a display-table, or an army deployed ready for battle. Submission is also used to accept someone’s admonition or advice.

In our lives we often submit to our boss, the government, our spouse, our pastor, or a spiritual authority. We also submit to our possessions, pride, and sin.

Jesus Himself submitted to the Father. He did not do it from weakness but from strength. Our submission must be as Jesus modeled. Submission is not becoming a doormat. Submission is more like an elevator.

An elevator lifts things up. As we submit to God, we elevate Him. When we submit to our spouse, we elevate him or her to a higher position. The purpose of submission is elevation or exaltation. As we submit to God, we exalt Him.

The entire basis of submission is not control but love.

There is an enormous difference between obedience and submission. Think "Passive Aggressive." 

You can obey without submitting.

As we submit to God, we elevate Him above our agenda. As we submit to our spouse, we elevate him or her above our wants.

Submission is the cure for our control issues.

[1] Job 22:21; James 4:6-8

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This makes so much sense! I loved, " God protects that that belongs to Him. What does not belong to Him, He is not as much inclined to protect.

    Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [James 4:7 (NKJV)]".