I went to a small school. My school fell under the smallest category in Texas, 1A. Attending a 1A school meant that if you played sports, then you played all of them. However, I never did play golf, and I did try to weasel my way out of basketball a few times. 1A sports teams meant that there were no tryouts, anyone who wanted to play could. Therefore, teams had a variety of skilled players – some good, some average, and unfortunately, some plain unathletic. We had to work with what we had.
If you participated in any sports, then you know that the coaches always gave a before-the-game speech. There was a game plan, a plan to get the win. One of my coaches would always remind us to “control the controllables,” no matter the team we were playing against. Controlling the controllables in the context of sports meant making sure we would box out when a shot went up in basketball or cover a hitter when she goes up to spike the volleyball. The reason this was so important was that a team that did the little things put itself in a better position to win. A super athletic team could lose to a team that wasn’t as talented because they didn’t take care of the little things. They didn’t control the controllables.
Now, at this point, you might be wondering, “What does any of this have to do with being on the mission field?” During this season of my life, I’ve become painfully aware of things that I’m not in control of. Life always has a way of reminding us that we are not in control, no matter how organized we are. We can only fool ourselves for so long, believing that time listens to us and bends according to our schedules and wills. Inevitably, life throws us complete loops and turns everything upside down. The vision of what we thought life would be like can quickly change. All you’re left with is the wind knocked out of you and the panicky feeling that you’re behind while everyone else has it figured out. It’s a scary feeling, and it is a feeling that I believe God can redeem.
I don’t believe God completely turns our lives upside down because He is bored, needs entertainment, and has the capability to do so. No, the God I serve is much too kind and compassionate. For Him to act any other way, He would no longer be God. Life happens because we live in a broken world. Pandemics happen, people come and people go, money can’t buy happiness, and death reminds us of just how finite we are. In these seasons, God is graciously right there with us. He isn’t watching us from afar cheering us on, while safely relaxing from the comfort of heaven. No, He is right here in the mess of it all. He is there in the moments when you’re not even sure what the next step is. The only thing you’re concerned about is staying afloat and making it to the next day.
As I’ve mentioned, recently, my life feels a little out of my control. There are times when it feels like if I had control then things would be better. I could trade uncertainty for confidence. I wouldn’t question everything I’m doing, and I wouldn’t have to feel the pain. Sometimes, the temptation to believe that it would just be easier to trust in the false sense of security that I’ve built for myself is stronger than the belief I have in the One who created me. However, God sends gentle reminders that He is in control, even when times are uncertain. God has been inviting me to experience his faithfulness, trustworthiness, and compassion. He is asking me to trust that He will be faithful in the big things. He is challenging me to have faith, even when things don’t look like what I thought they should.
So, during this time, I’ve been reminding myself to control the controllables. I can control how much water I drink in a day (my roommate Genesis tells me I’m not very good at drinking enough), and I can control what time I go to bed, my attitude, taking time to read the Bible, and taking time to pray. While I cannot control the future or time, there are a few small things I can do. This helps me to remember that while I’m controlling the small things, God is compassionate and faithfully taking care of the big things. So, I invite you to remind yourself of the things you can control and rest in the assurance that God will take care of the rest.