by Irene Kawashima
The following is an adaptation of Irene’s presentation on April 28th at the Ladies’ Tea.
Recently I was observing a toddler pushing his toy through a play area. He had come to an impasse and as much as he tried to push, the toy wouldn’t move forward because one of its wheels kept hitting a barrier. His mother, standing to the side, was quietly giving him direction as to how to move his toy into a clear area so that he could move on. But the little boy was not listening, being too focused on pushing the toy forward. At one point his mother tried to move the toy herself but the toddler pushed her hand away and persisted in moving the toy back and forth hitting the barrier. Eventually frustration grew and he began to cry and fuss. It was then that his mother gently and simply moved the toy over and the little boy was able to push his toy into an open space, happy as ever. As I watched this toddler dismiss his mother’s input and help, I realized this situation reflected what my life and walk with God has been at times.
You see, I have wrestled with an innate desire to control situations and events in my life. This need for control contributed in me being a strong willed, independent and stubborn child (just ask any of my siblings!). However, it wasn’t until my senior year in college that I became aware of just how deeply rooted this issue was within me. It was Fall quarter and an extremely busy time of extracurricular activities, classes and part time jobs. Like other seniors, I was challenged by the uncertainty of my future. Do I apply to graduate school or find a job? What job and where? What should the priorities of my life be and how do I balance it all? As a Christian, I knew cognitively that God had a plan for me and to simply trust in Him. However, emotionally I felt that I needed to “help God out” so I plowed ahead with my own actions. Regrettably, my attempts to set my life on what I thought was a nice orderly path created a stress level and fear in me that eventually manifested itself in a traumatic physical illness. Rather than me controlling the issues, they in fact controlled and affected me!
Jeremiah 29:11-13 speaks of God’s plan for our lives and of His desire for a “heart” relationship with us. I realized that my attempts to gain control over situations in my life only occurred because I kept God at a distance. And so I spent the remainder of my senior year seeking after a deeper connection with God. It was through this intimate relationship that the Holy Spirit was able to bring understanding and life to God’s words. It was this heart relationship that helped me to trust more and allow God to have His way which led to my physical healing. Just as that little toddler eventually allowed his mother to guide him to a clearer and easier path for his toy. I had to learn how to simply “let go & let God” be in the driver's seat for my life.
So how exactly does one “let go & let God” do His thing? Basically, stop striving and start abiding! John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing”. We don’t have to strive or “help God” to make our life or situations turn out a certain way; we just have to abide in Him (rest, connect with). You see when we strive to make things happen, one of two things occur − we become either stressed or depressed. That’s because things aren’t happening in the way we want or as fast as we want. These feelings result from being in conflict with God, we’re trying to control things that only God can control. The more you do, the more you’re in opposition to Him. Stress relief starts with letting God be God. What is stressing or depressing you right now - family, work, relationships, finance, singleness? Are you in conflict with God?
No matter what you’re facing, be encouraged, for God holds everything together (Colossians 1:17, Living Bible). That means we don’t have to hold onto things so tightly out of our own desires or fears. We can “let go & let God” be in control with whatever arises before us. When we seek after Him, He will always respond; when we are obedient to Him, He will always come through!