As women, we are apt to be controllers.
We tightly grip the things that matter most to us. We clutch our children, control our husband, treasure our possessions, count calories meticulously… whatever it is that matters to us, we tend to hold it tightly.
But… it happened to me again this week: whatever we try to control ends up controlling us. As my heart quaked over something I couldn’t control, it took me longer than it should’ve to remember:
God doesn’t mean for us to live this way.
Let me ask you directly: What are you “clutching in your hands?”
In Deuteronomy 16, God laid out instructions for coming before Him:
Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God …They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed.
Throughout the Old Testament, God commanded the people of Israel to come before Him with sacrificial offerings, taken from the possessions and fruit of their labors. They were not to “appear before the LORD empty-handed.”
I have lived among cultures where a regular sacrificial offering was a religious duty. Where poor and rich alike bring things to God, hoping to find favor and forgiveness.
The autumn air was crisp as I walked to my language lesson, and came upon a horse that had (only moments before) had its neck slit for sacrifice. On my way back an hour later, it was still alive, taking its final sputtery breaths.
Our first apartment in Istanbul was a quarter-mile from a tent where the bleating sheep were marked with neon orange spray paint, according to value, awaiting their slaughter for the “cutting holiday.”
In a matter of weeks, the tent was silent and empty.
Human hands controlling, reaching, stretching out to obtain God’s favor.
ONE SACRIFICE FOR ALL
How freeing that, as believers in Christ, our song can be:
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die!
Christ’s perfect payment on the cross frees us from the requirement of bringing things to God, and instead compels us to hold everything in our lives up to God with open hands.
While as believers we are no longer under the wrath of God, needing to bring sacrifices to atone for our sin, we have the privilege to bring Him everything we have. We no longer need to clutch everything, and everyone, in our lives.
Instead, we bring them to Him willingly.
…the attitudes of our hearts, the hurts in our marriage, the people in our lives, the possessions we own, the children we are afraid we are messing up, the situations we are facing…
We can bring it all to the One Who knows best, not out of duty-bound obligation as payment to God, but as a child. The humble child who recognizes that he is not all-capable quietly brings his shoes to his dad and says, “will you help me put on my shoes?” He knows he needs someone bigger than himself. He comes not out of obligation but out of a recognition- “I can do nothing without your help.”
Do you have that attitude toward our Father in Heaven?
Do you believe, “I can do NOTHING, Lord, without YOUR help”?
The problem is, all too often, we don’t.
Even though we say we believe, we fail to trust God with the things we care about most. And so we control.
- We tightly grip our husbands and children, seeking to control their actions and words.
- Fear keeps us in a cycle of endless churning over things, people, and circumstances (all of which are ultimately beyond our control).
- We seek to control our homes, some of us through yelling fury & domination, and others through emotional hype and mommy martyrdom.
- All the while, anxiety controls US, so that we clutch it all even more tightly.
When we are clutching people, things, or circumstances, it points to a heart issue of one kind or another.
Tight-gripped hands point to a lack of trust of the Father.
As women, with hearts that desire to control everything and everyone around us, we can look at our lives and consider:
- What am I clinging to? What am I tightly clutching?
- Am I behaving as a non-Christian, a follower of some other religion, as if I have to control things and “make offerings” to God in order to appease Him, earn His favor, or make Him do things the way I want?
- Am I behaving as an unbeliever, as if God is powerless or untrustworthy? Are my hands clutching for control because I doubt His goodness and care for me?
- Am I behaving as if I am the sovereign God? As if *I’M* the only one who can get things done as they ought to be done?
Friend, even as I pose this question to you, I’m asking it of me:
What do your hands say about your faith?