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Fear of Losing Control

DSC_0553-Jeff_Robinett_blog_portraitHave you ever been accused of being a “control freak?” I have! Many times I have feared losing control, and I when I'm not in charge I still struggle at times. Maybe you don’t think you have control issues, but let’s see how true that really is…

- Are you easily rattled when things don’t go as expected?

- Do you worry about things beyond your control?

- Is it hard to turn off your mind?

- Do pressing problems cause you to lose sleep?

- Are you scared of the unknown?

- Do you often imagine the worst case scenario?

If you answered yes to three or more questions, chances are good that you fear losing control.

The Bible calls this condition “an anxious heart” (Proverbs 12:25), and it’s a heavy weight to carry. Fortunately, the Bible also provides a solution…

First, take your mind off the negative “what if’s.”

What if I lost my job?” “What if become ill?” “What if my marriage falls apart?” Do you dwell on problems like this? Are you unable to stop thinking about bad things, even when times are good?

It’s normal to occasionally think about the future. But when you begin to anticipate every little thing, that’s a problem…especially if you always focus on negative possibilities!

Jesus dealt with this problem when preparing his disciples for life after his resurrection. He warned they would “be called into question about why you’re following me.” Then he instructed them to “make up your mind not to worry beforehand…” – Luke 21:14 (NIV)

During an interview extreme skier Ken Rikelman was asked “How do you do it? How do you decide in a split second which way to go when you’re skiing?” His answer applies to your “what ifs”:

“The first thing you have to do is make up your mind to not look at the trees. You have to focus on the open space.”

As my father-in-law says, “That’ll preach!” And it’s great advice for everyday life! Refuse to let worry control you, and look for “open space.”

Next, focus your mind on the promises of God.

Your mind is like an empty drinking glass. You choose what goes into it. Fill it with “what if’s” and you’ll have a fearful, anxious heart.  Fill it with the promises of God, and your heart will be at peace.  The prophet Isaiah confirmed this truth when he wrote:

“You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

 – Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

A good way to focus on God’s promises is to memorize scripture that address the particular fear you’re dealing with. Any time that fear comes to mind, counter it with promises you’ve learned.

This technique has been very effective for me. Not only do the verses bring peace, but as I concentrate on God’s Word I am training my mind to operate in faith.

Finally, give your real cares to God…and don’t take them back.

Maybe you’ve heard that “ninety-nine percent of the things you worry about never happen.”  It’s true, but that’s not to say you’ll never have problems. You will have some unpleasant experiences…situations you wouldn’t choose to encounter. Very often these things are simply beyond our control.

How should we react when this happens? First, we acknowledge we can’t control the situation, then we put it into God’s hands. Paul gave this advice to the first century Christians in Philippi:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

A friend of mine created something that helps him overcome his fear of losing control. He calls it a “trusting God” box. He took a shoe box, put a hole in the top, and wrapped it with paper. When he begins to worry about things that are out of his control, he writes it on a slip of paper, prays, puts it in the box…and leaves it there! From that point on, it’s God’s problem to handle!

Are you struggling with irrational “what ifs” today? Confront them with the truth of God’s promises and refuse to let them dominate your thinking. Or perhaps you’re facing some legitimate threats. Give them to God, follow his directions, and refuse to pick them up again.

Either way, God is your best friend and greatest help…and he’s always in control!

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