Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.
A couple of months ago I was setting up for our church gathering. We meet in a school. While that has so many wonderful benefits, it also means that we have to set up everything fresh for each Sunday gathering. I'm the first one in, so I usually get a few tech things set up in the auditorium and then roll the coffee cart out for the rest of our team to take from there. It's someone else's job to brew a few pots of coffee.
It's someone else's job to brew a few pots of coffee.
But I was in the zone, getting things done, and I noticed it was about the time that our coffee servers were supposed to arrive. They weren't late yet, but I also didn't see them around, and I knew the coffee needed brewing. So to get a quick head start, I measured out the two liters of water and poured it into the back of our brewing machine. I was going to get the first pot going, but then I got distracted with another task, so I left it.
Maybe 15 minutes later, I was working my way back through the lobby where coffee was being brewed. Our wonderful volunteer couple was cleaning up a huge mess on the ground. I asked what had happened. They explained that they weren't sure what was up, but it seemed like the coffee maker was already full of water when they poured the correctly measured amount in. Water spilled out all over the counter and the floor among all the coffee supplies. Maybe there was still water in it from last week, they wondered?
"Well, clearly someone was horribly irresponsible. Who would do such a thing?" And I quickly walked away.....
Nah. That's what I wanted to say and do, believe me. But with embarrassment I confessed that I hadn't seen them around, so I had started the process on my own... a process that wasn't mine to do. And then I left it, and I ended up being the source of the mess they had to clean up.
Not only was it not my job to do, but it was dishonoring to my sister and brother to micromanage like that. Thankfully they were kind about it, but I realized in that moment, that I needed to address (once again) my need for control.
When the scriptures talk about self-control, we often take that and boil it down to three big categories: saying mean things, sexual temptation, or too much junk food.
Self-control in the way of Jesus goes well beyond that. It's about learning to relinquish the need to control our situations, to control others, and to be in control in order to find peace. Self-control, ironically, means trusting God in the moments where it's easier to try to control people and situations around you. God's goodness is constantly within reach, whether or not our lives and situations feel under control.
It's about trust. It's about being ok with what is ours to do and releasing what is not ours to do. It's also about letting others brew coffee in peace without needing to stick your controlling little hands into that cart.
If we follow this, we realize that much of discipleship is really about learning to embrace our limits and boundaries. How often might we assert our opinion into someone else's life when we haven't lovingly earned the right to speak into it? How often do we try to script every aspect of our own lives only to realize that control is a myth? How often do we cross boundaries under the guise of just trying to be helpful, but leave someone else feeling less respected? (Goodness, we parents can struggle mightily with this one).
I always want to be a person of self-control. But this week, I want to make sure that it includes relinquishing the need for control. By practicing self-control in such a way, I learn to find my peace and contentment in God, and love and respect my neighbor.
Jesus, help me trust you in absolute fullness today, regardless of what is left undone or what is beyond my control.