Surrendering Control

holding hands

Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

Exodus 33:12-18

“Mom, come with me!”

“Daddy, COME!!!”

We want to be independent, right? We want to be in control. But when things get difficult in life, there is a moment where independence can lose its appeal and we suddenly become aware of the enormous benefit of company.

If you ever got lost as a child, you probably still vividly remember it. There is a horrible moment of realization followed by a primal, mounting terror that burns an indelible mark on a child’s psyche. We wanted to explore, we wanted to see what was around the next corner, we wanted to do it ourselves… but we didn’t want to be surrounded by strangers in an unfamiliar place. How great the relief when a much-beloved parent arrives into view!

Moses was a hesitant leader. Full of excuses of his own inadequacies, he was hardly the confident, square-jawed hero of the movies. But perhaps this self-effacing quality was also his greatest strength. Moses could have made his own plans for his people. But instead, he was wise enough to keep his father in clear view. Despite the burden of power, and the allure of control, Moses knew that he couldn’t do it on his own. He needed God to go with him, wherever he was. And like any proud father, God seems to smile, pushing Moses gently forward and saying, “Don’t worry. I’m not leaving. I’ll be right here.”

It is so easy to claim control of our lives. We plan confidently for our futures. We project where we’ll be in the years to come. We like to make the decisions for our own lives, because we know best. But when things don’t go so well with our plans, we are brought up short and left searching wildly for God in the midst of our messes.

We do need to plan, while listening to the voice of our Father. We do need to think about our next steps, while paying attention to the presence of the Spirit. We need to surrender the illusion that we can control everything. Even when we do this, things may still not go so well all the time, but as we face the difficulties in life – the challenges, the milestones and the griefs, be reassured – God is with us. Immanuel.

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