In a piece Brandon Evans wrote about riding out Hurricane Irma, he shared this recommendation: “Rather than trying to control every outcome or obsess about what might happen, just let life actually unfold.”
It’s hard to do that. We’re swept along by schedules and deadlines, we’re super-sensitive to what people are thinking and might say, we have a specific outcome in mind, and we engineer our time and energy to get there. We are scared to death by media-driven hypochondria, and how every little variation in life will hurt your pocketbook, affect your family’s health, and leave you vulnerable to imminent doom. Social media pictures of happy people doing exciting things in exotic places haunt us with the possibility that life has left us behind.
Actually, we have very little control over the weather, earthquakes, what other people say and do, wars and the economy, disease and death and doom. Think about how much happens in your life without your permission, approval or initiative. Much of the time your foot’s not on the accelerator or the brake or the steering wheel. You’re just buckled in for the ride.
What do we control? We can work hard and do a good job. We can take time to rest and let our bodies regenerate. We can talk and listen and get to know the people around us. We can embrace the journey or the day even if it doesn’t go the way we planned or we didn’t get anything done that we wanted to. We can get to know the One who does have a handle on time, the world and life.
Think about that for a moment. When Jesus was here, he wasn’t especially concerned about the weather. He soundly slept through a potentially life-threatening storm. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry, having time for prayer, conversation, worship and rest. He wasn’t concerned about politics or politicians. He knew they couldn’t do anything unless he let them. The demonic didn’t creep him out. Neither did disease. Or death.
As life unfolds, a good prayer to keep handy might be, “Lord, help me learn from this experience.” It may not be what you expected or wanted. Or, it might be an unexpected surprise. It might be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Or it might be the best advice you ever got.
When things happen, take a moment, take a breath, take another look. Take stock of your feelings, your reaction, and what, if anything, you need to do. Once in a while, just let life unfold.