verb (used with object), con·trolled, con·trol·ling
- to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.
- to hold in check; curb: to control a horse; to control one’s emotions.
- to test or verify (a scientific experiment) by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison.
- to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of: to control a forest fire.
- Obsolete . to check or regulate (transactions), originally by means of a duplicate register.
I have always been… uneasy… when hearing or using this word and concept related to salvation and describing our relationship with God. Things like “surrender to God’s control” or “give up your will to God.” Some reasons were obvious to me, like how I don’t believe God wants robots, if He did, I think He would have just created us without free will or would have just snuffed out the first whiff of sin and His creation would have served Him out of fear, never again questioning. But are either of those things relationship? You just have to look around your life to realize, no, they are not.
But honestly surrendering to God and growing closer to Him and following His ways IS vitally important, otherwise you are just a hypocrite, a modern day pharisee. It wasn’t too long ago that I thought a better word use instead of “control” was “authority.” But I wasn’t entirely sure what I meant by that either, until I was thinking about it this morning and it felt like something clicked.
noun, plural au·thor·i·ties
- the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command, or determine.
- a power or right delegated or given; authorization: Who has the authority to grant permission?
- a person or body of persons in whom authority is vested, as a governmental agency.
- Usually, authorities. persons having the legal power to make and enforce the law; government: They finally persuaded the authorities that they were not involved in espionage.
- an accepted source of information, advice, etc.
I know it seems so very similar, but it suddenly has made a world of different in my view. See, recently I’ve been reading a lot about history, governments, the nature of power and force, separation of church and state, economics and law. And just a few days ago I came across this video (click here) which was so refreshing to listen to.
So here’s how I understand now: When I surrender to God, I am using my will to choose to voluntarily accept His authority in and over my life. To me, this has MUCH more dignity and my deepest identity that He gave me remains intact, it’s so much more that just saying “I am now under God’s control.” I still matter to Him, my choices still matter to Him, my will still matters to Him. I am cognizant that if I give Him the highest say in my life, He has the right to ask things of me! I easily recognize authority in my earthly life: when I was young, it was my parents, when I was in classes, it was my teachers, when I am at work, it is my boss, when I am just living my life, it is the laws of my city, my state, and my country. So when it comes to my character, my soul, it is God.
I see God as a God of Invitation, not Ultimatum, and do not see why that would change once I have put my faith in Him. It has long been recognized that everyone who knows God has their own relationship with Him like no one else’s. So it makes sense to me to think that since God knows me individually, He will ask things of me that fit with who I am and will take me towards being more like Him. He won’t compel me to do things that don’t fit with my skills or talents or that I am not yet ready for. That doesn’t mean the things that are asked of me will be easy, but they will bring LIFE. AND, it also means that I DO have authority in my own life because He passes it on to me. Life choices often become a collaborative affair!
It comes down to this, perhaps: I have no interest in getting to know someone who is out to control me. I do want to get to know someone who is secure in His own identity, is powerful and caring and will push me to grow in righteousness.
So finally, I am at peace with the word “control” as a function of authority, and not as the verb alone.