A friend shared a quote by Richard Foster on social media the other day that really struck me – to be quite honest, because it reminded me of myself.
“The obsession to demand that things go the way we want them to go is one of the greatest bondages in human society today.”
And how true is that? I mean, really. If we stopped to consider the foundation of a majority of our life’s problems, surely we could say that a large number of them are caused in some sense or another by this desire to have our own way and frustration when things don’t go as we planned for them to.
When I first thought about what it means to want one’s own way, I imagined scenarios like wanting to go to Subway when the rest of the group chooses McDonald’s, or wishing it were my turn to use the television instead of watching a family member’s favorite movie for the hundredth time in a row. But what in the world does wanting our own way have to do with being held in bondage?
It’s pretty simple. A self-directed and self-motivated way of thinking ensnares us not only because it harbors an attitude of selfishness, which is sin in its own right, but because it ultimately causes us to choose our own comfort, control, and pleasure over the will of a sovereign God.
This isn’t just the explanation for a general character flaw; it’s the basis for our sin and misery on a much larger scale. “Wanting our own way,” in the way I’ve worded it so far, is only a small aspect of the tendency people have to want to be in control of themselves, other people, and even entire situations. We want the final say in all the areas of who, what, when, why, where, and how when it comes to the happenings of life.
And I know I’m not the only one who can attest to the fact that we are not worthy of that kind of power and control. Not yesterday, not now, not tomorrow, not ever. That’s easier spoken than lived, though, because I’m sure you know just as well as I do that even if we want to follow the will of God and we know that we mess things up much more often than we get it right, we still get all wrapped up in whatever happens to promise us the most emotional bliss, financial security, and personal comfort.
Then on the other hand, demanding that things go the way we want them to go is not always based in the pursuit of happiness or success. A lot of the time – I would even wager that it’s closer to “most of the time” – this fight to have things go our way points pretty directly to our lack of trust in God’s way. There, I said it. It reveals a lack of trust in God. And this is a very heavy bondage, indeed.
Any peace that I have in this life comes from the realization that God is more capable of dictating the happenings of my world and everyone else’s than I could ever be. If I don’t surrender to that and trust the goodness and infallibility of His will, His plan, and His purpose, then I have nothing. I can’t be trusted to carry the weight of this life. I can’t trust any other human being to do that, either. It’s all Him. It’s only Him.
So no matter what happens and whether or not I wanted it to happen, I can let it go. I can be released from this bondage of worry and frustration over making things go my way – and I can rest in His way. I invite you to do it, too.