My house is filling up with boxes.
Every nook and cranny of our home slowly becoming undone.
And in the midst of the packing, there’s laundry piles on the floor and dishes filling the sink and bathrooms that desperately need cleaning.
To me, right now our house is chaos. I’m a homemaker literally un-making my home.
And in the midst of the joy and excitement I feel to move on to this new season in our lives, this chaos is sometimes enough to drive me bonkers and all of life feels a little out of control.
But God is in control.
I know that. That’s Christianity 101, right? It’s plastered in hallmark cards, Facebook statuses, and songs. (I can hear my nasally 13 year year old voice belting that Twila Paris classic even now!) The phrase is used so much, I honestly often feel like it’s cliche.
What I mean is, I’m confident that God, indeed, is sovereign. We say God is in control when we’re faced with the BIG things. The decisions, the events, the sickness, the healing. But is He in control of my emotions? Of my heart? Of my affections?
Hmmm…then the song doesn’t seem to flow so freely for me.
You see, my heart longs for control. Not so much in the sense of the big decisions or world affairs…I know God’s got that. What I long for control in is much more subtle. I want stability and security. I love “a+b=c” and tried and true formulas for success. I desire comfort and peace. I crave order and routine and properly executed schedules. I pride myself in creating a home environment that is peaceful, comfortable, and safe for my family.
But I even see my desire for control rearing its ugly head in the packing. Books, photo albums, DVDs, and things that fit nicely and neatly in a box? Sure, I’ll gladly pack that up…I might even enjoy it. But the things that are odd shapes, fragile, or don’t fit nicely in a specific category? Ick. Makes me cringe.
Ugh. My name is Megan Johnson and I am addicted to control.
Yesterday the boxes were piling up. Dust and dirt invaded my carpet. Dirty dishes were filling the sink. Our noisy dryer reminded me of the laundry that needed folded. My husband is currently between jobs and has an erratic schedule. There was the realization that our routines and commitments and responsibilities were a thing of the past. Trying to close on a house within 30 days of finding it requires an insane amount of paperwork, phone calls, and (gulp) money. Then my 3 month old woke early from 2 naps in a row, my potty-training toddler pooped in his pants, and my 1st grader’s math homework left even this former middle school teacher frustrated and confused. And I broke.
I wanted to scream. I did cry. In that moment, I despised the unrest in my home and in my soul. And my fingers started wrapping a little tighter around the illusion of control.
But God showed grace to my wandering heart and I ended up cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom, tears in my eyes, and my heart actually willing to hear what He wanted to tell me. And I knew I needed to hear it.
Megan, what is controlling your heart? What is determining your joy? What are you placing your confidence, worth, and security in?
John Calvin said that the human heart is an “idol factory”…constantly giving god-like weight to things other than our Creator. It’s the things that we spend our time thinking about, working towards, and sacrificing for. That determine our joy and affections and contentment. That we put our confidence, identity, and security in.
And it’s becoming increasingly evident to me that this desire for control, stability, and purpose can take idolatrous places in my own heart.
I am most happy when I’ve had a productive day and kept to a purposeful schedule, my house is neat and in order, I’ve had peace and quiet to spend time with the Lord, and my kids sleep well and are delightful and obedient. I want to feel competent, accomplished, secure, and comfortable. These things get thrown off, and it’s a fight to maintain my joy in the midst of this chaos.
In her book, Glimpses of Grace, Gloria Furman says this…
“I think that if I don’t see any chaos, then that assumes the presence of peace. That’s the deluding lie. I humbly submit to you, if you heart is anything like mine, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve organized your storage closet, your kids’ toys, or your in-box if there is discontentment bound up in your heart.
If there is discontent bound up in your heart, then there is no room in your house where you can go and feel peace. You will, as I have, attempt to create the perfect environment that is rid of distractions so that you can focus. At the end of the day you will find out that the chaos isn’t in your environment – it’s in your heart.”
These things that I desperately try to control are only illusions of contentment that will never fully satisfy my heart. I begin to worship the stability of created things rather than the stability of the Unchanging One.
“…and HE will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure.”
– Isaiah 33:6
Yesterday revealed what my heart was truly treasuring. And it wasn’t Him. I treasured my own counterfeit version of stability, control, security, and comfortability. But what my heart is really yearning for is more of the Lord. He is my true stability.
Life is in a bit of a trapeze act for us right now. We’ve let go of of “what was before”, but we haven’t quite grasped on to “what’s next”…and really don’t know exactly what to expect. It feels like a bit of a free fall.
And YET because of the gospel, I can remain secure.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf…”
– Hebrews 6:20
So, I can either worship at the feet of my own work, my own effort, my own righteousness, and my own comfort…or I can worship at the nail scarred feet of the One Who has already accomplished it for me. I can try, unsuccessfully, to maintain an image of myself and of my home that I create…or I can make my goal to be conformed to the image of Christ instead.
Because of the gospel, I can have joy. True lasting, consistent, and secure joy regardless of the circumstances surrounding my day or the environment that I’m in. IF I let my Father be the determining factor for my joy…Who, even in the midst of these changes and transitions, does not change (James 1:17).
And in Him alone can I find peace for my restless soul.
The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk, attested to this in the midst of his circumstances…
“Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.“
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
So today, as I tear apart my home, I’m striving to also tear down my idols.
Though the rooms are filled with boxes and the walls are bare, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though my feet are sticking to the kitchen floor and the cupboards are begging to be filled, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though my calendar is erratic and a “normal” day hard to define, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though I struggle to find a defined purpose and feel stuck in the in-between, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though I may watch our savings dwindle and seem to mail checks out daily, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though my baby may fight sleep and my toddler may not make it to the potty, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Though I can’t control my past, my present, and certainly not my future, yet I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
And in doing so, I’m loosening my grip and letting HIM control my emotions, thoughts, plans, and feelings.
My purpose, my joy, my peace is to worship HIM alone.
“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
– St. Augustine