Who’s In Charge?

Who’s in control?

Ultimately, of course, God is in control. But what if we narrow the scope a bit? If I think about myself and my own reactions or responses, who’s in control?

I asked that question earlier this week in a group of eighth grade boys. How do you think they answered?

I worked with middle school kids for a long time, so their answer didn’t really surprise me. Still, I felt a sense of dismay as I listened to their convictions.

These young men are absolutely convinced that others have the ability to “make” them lash out in anger or run away in terror. They truly believe that, in at least some situations, they’re powerless to determine how they respond. They think courage means fighting when someone challenges them.

Isn’t that incredibly sad? And before you dismiss their feelings of powerlessness as adolescent immaturity, let’s wonder how many of us harbor more subtle versions of the same heartbreaking notion.

How often does another driver cut in front of me, “causing” me to yell because he “made” me angry? Do I ever fall into the trap of gossip because “everyone else is doing it”?

You made me afraid. She made me depressed. He made me sad. They made me lonely.

Does any of this sound familiar? Am I the only one who habitually gives away my power to choose and blames someone else for my own internal interpretations and external reactions?

These might be familiar statements, but they’re lies. No one else holds the power to “make” me angry or depressed or lonely. If I hadn’t been talking to those boys in a public school classroom, I might have reminded them that Jesus died so they could be free from that nonsense.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. [Galatians 5:1]

This passage usually refers to freedom from sin, but what’s more sinful than surrendering my own self-control and self-respect? What’s more sinful than handing over the self-worth and freedom for which Jesus died?

I told those boys they were worthwhile and worthy of respect, not because of what they accomplished but because they were valuable as individuals. I told them they held the power to choose their responses. We worked through some activities, but I honestly don’t know if they believed me. It’s difficult to counter a lifetime of reacting and blaming.

I wanted to tell them that they’re so worthwhile and worthy that Jesus died for their freedom.

I wanted to tell them that Jesus “…did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! [Philippians 2:6-8]

I wanted them to know that Jesus values them so much that He let go of being God and died for them.

That’s the truth I couldn’t tell them in that setting.

But it’s still the truth. You and I are so valuable that Jesus was willing to take our place and confront death so we could be free.

The next time I’m tempted to blame someone else for my own reaction, I hope I’ll remember the price at which my freedom to choose was bought.

Maybe I won’t give it away so cheaply.

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Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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