A couple of weekends ago, I was playing the hand bells at our church when I realized that I just couldn’t relinquish control to God. Our hand bell choir meets once a week throughout the year and plays about once a month at Mass. We prepare our songs (the best that we can) and then play our little hearts out for the congregation. Even when I am prepped and ready to play, I seem to tighten up and find myself trying to take over what God should be doing. When I sing at church, I don’t seem to have this problem, but I definitely suffer from control issues when I am playing the bells. I continually repeat in my head during the church service, “Breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathe out my control issues.” I continually tell myself, “You must let go and let God take over. He will let the people hear beautiful music.” I continually tell myself, “Lord, please let these people be inspired by our bells, let them hear beauty in the midst of my errors.” I have to give myself a little credit here; I do know that God will use my errors for good. I recognize that humility is a good thing, but I feel bad that I have to take down the whole bell choir with my mistakes. That is the difference between when I sing and when I play the bells. I am letting down others, not just myself. The congregation doesn’t know who makes the error, only the bell choir does. I am letting down my team. That is why I feel shame and guilt.
Yesterday in my devotional, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young she says:
“You don’t have to perform well in order to receive my love. In fact, a performance focus will pull you away from Me, toward some sort of Pharisaism. This can be a subtle form of idolatry; worshiping your own good works. It can also be a source of deep discouragement when your works don’t measure up to your expectations. Shift your focus from your performance to my radiant presence… Thank me for everything; trust in Me at all times.”
Wow. Perfectly said. I have been focusing on my performance (which will for sure be a letdown because failure is imminent). Instead of focusing on God’s radiant presence, I was focusing on my individual performance. I was not allowing God to conduct us as a team. I was focusing on my guilt and letting my eyes move away from God. I was focusing on fear and allowing my expectations to dictate my performance. (Remember, fear is “false expectations appearing real”). I was focusing on myself (and controlling my bell ringing) not on the team and what we were playing. I had no idea what we sounded like as a bell choir because I wasn’t listening to the beauty of the bells ringing together. I was listening to my four bells (you know, what I could control).
My suspicion is we all have control issues in our lives. Control over our kids, over our spouse, over our friends, over cleanliness, over organization, over our work, over our volunteer work, and much more. We all try to control something – it is just pinpointing where our control issues lie. When we can point out our control problem, then we can finally allow God to melt our hearts and trust in His ways. We can finally focus on Him instead of what we are trying to control.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
“So that no one can boast,” really says it all. We boast when we control. Once I allow myself to remember it is not because of me that I succeed, it is because of God, then I will find joy in all my playing (good and bad). He is in control, not me. He is the one who will ultimately help me through my control. Once I realize this, life will be so much easier. I can finally say, “I have given it my best. I have practiced and I have prepared. I am ready for you to take over and make this work as you see fit.”
Relinquish control to God today!