We are afraid of what we cannot control. If we did not plan it, prepare for it, and chart a course for it, we don’t want it. And the idea of being led into unfamiliar territory is terrifying. If God is the One guiding us along this uncharted trail, then what do we have to fear? We can rest in the assurance that His plans are good, helpful, filled with hope for the future (Jeremiah 29:11). But we’re still scared, aren’t we? It is impossible to imagine forsaking the trail we know so well, the one we've grown accustomed to, the trail we've waited our whole life to hike, all to venture into the untamed, uncontrolled, and unknown. We are so scared of relinquishing the reigns of our life that if forced to choose between our own plans with which we are familiar, and Someone’s plans which are unfamiliar to us but which have been promised to be amazing, we will often choose our own plans. If we are going to have a fantastic future, we want to be in charge. We want to know exactly what wonderful things are headed our way, precisely when each terrific occasion is scheduled to occur. And sometimes our craving to keep control outweighs our desire for that fabulous, hope-filled future that is ours to be claimed.
There will always be reasons to stick to your own plans. When you’re scared to trade in what you had planned for what God’s got for you, the reasons will jump out at you from around every corner, seducing you with their promises of comfort and complacency. Trust me, I know. For the past several months I have been wrestling with some major choices, one of them involved a choice between staying and going. I kept finding reasons to go, to leave…recently God showed me that I’ve been trying to run. I’ve been able to find so many reasons to leave, so many reasons to change, because I have been afraid that God’s plans might not include my own. To stay would mean to need to put in the effort to continue to explore the path God’s set me on, the discipline to navigate my way through obstacles and challenges I had never thought to prepare for. In short, to stay would be to have to conform to a new plan, one that I didn’t grow up dreaming about, one that wouldn’t go the way I had imagined it would. But time and again, God has shown me how much greater His plans are compared to mine. In this case, His plans are nothing like mine- they’re so much better.
There is no denying that the thought of breaking out of complacent, secure dreams of the future and stepping into the unknown is terrifying. We all long to be tightly wrapped in the arms of safety and stability, but we have to ask ourselves if we are searching in the right places for this comfort? Are the plans that we construct without the boundaries of our own knowledge and faith enough to keep the wild world from touching us? Or do we need something stronger, a script written by Someone omnipotent and omniscient? We can’t let the flames of fear burn so hot and so high that they torch the bridge between us and the future handcrafted by God. If fear keeps us from walking across that bridge, if it forces us to take a detour rather than stay on the path laid out for us by the Almighty Himself, then we have let the Enemy have the upper hand. But our God has called Himself the Living Water for a reason, and it is by His grace and in His strength that we find the courage that douses fear’s flames and turns a fiery impasse into a course we can walk with confidence.
The thought of surrendering control is scary, but the thought of relying on the my own plans rather than the plans of the Alpha and Omega, the One who spoke creation into being, the God who knows my thoughts before I think them?
Well that, my friends, is terrifying.