When Your Life is No Longer Under Your Control

I’d be willing to bet most of you looked at the title and had a specific thought come to you about what it meant. Chances are pretty good the thought was wrong. When we think of not having control over our life it usually brings to mind something painful, terrifying, depressing, perhaps terminal, but always unacceptable and undesirable. No one likes to think he or she is not in control of their own life. And yet none of us truly is.

My wife was cleaning out her emails several days ago and found some posts from my old blogs Finding My Way Home and Journeys Further Down the Road. She was kind enough to forward them to me, and I will try to repost them here if I think they fit the message I want to write at the time. In this particular instance, I was re-reading one of them (which I will post immediately after this one) called When the Day Turns as Gray as the Weather, written ten months ago. In it I mentioned my PSA, the indicator of what my prostate cancer was doing, was on the rise, and my oncologist was once again pointing out the ultimate necessity of my having to go back on medication to control it. There wouldn’t be a chance of cure, and I would need to take them until: a) they no longer worked; b) I decided that I no longer would take them, or c) I died.

At the time I was very reluctant to restart them, as I remembered how terrible I felt during treatment. I preferred to just live out what time I may have left and call it a day. I was prepared to do that because I had committed myself to God and wasn’t concerned about dying. No matter what happened I knew I was going to be blessed and victorious-I’d win either way. It seemed reasonable at the time because I still had a hope it wouldn’t come to having to make the choice.

Fast forward to December 2021. My PSA had more than doubled, almost tripled, from the earlier result. Worse yet, it was doubling each time in less than six months and had cleared the threshold at which treatment is reinitiated. The choice I’d hope to never have to make was solidly in front of me. Having had time to think about it, I chose to pursue treatment and deal with whatever side effects may come. Having come to terms with having a cancer which will always be with me, I decided I could do the same with whatever might come from the medications.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself, “Hadn’t you decided you weren’t going to take the meds? What made you change your mind?” Fair question. What changed my mind was my wife. She had endured major surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for endometrial cancer, the last one in large part because I had asked her to do it. I wasn’t ready to give her up yet even knowing we would see each other again in the presence of God. If she was willing to do it for me, how could I not be willing to do it for her? I love her more than life itself and made a commitment to her “for better or worse, in sickness and health, until death do us part”. I had an unspoken conviction we weren’t finished yet, and I wasn’t ready to give up on her.

What didn’t change is an unshakeable belief that God is firmly in control of my life and circumstances, because I have given it to Him. It doesn’t mean I don’t try to take it back every now and then. But as I’ve told most of you who know me, I think God only ever asks us one question: “Do you trust Me”? I’ve learned I can answer every time with an unquestioning “Yes”. I’d already trusted Him with my cancer, knowing He had a purpose to be accomplished with it, even while I had no earthly idea what it might be. If he could provide the strength for that, He could manage a few medications side effects.

See, what I’ve figured out is when I try to control things, I make a HUGE mess of it. For the first two-thirds of my life (so far) I tried to control the narrative while mouthing a trust in God that really wasn’t there. It’s the explanation for our nomadic lives (up until not too long ago, the number of places we’d lived ran neck and neck with the number of years we’d been married). I was constantly looking for something “better”, for the ideal place, the ideal job, all the while thinking God was okay with it. I believe He managed to accomplish His purposes even in spite of all of the chaos. But there came a time when He finally kicked all the props out from under me, drove me to my knees, and made me realize if I didn’t give Him control of it all then I hadn’t given him control of anything, and I could see how that had worked out.

This past November we set a personal record. This is the first house Rita and I have every lived in for five consecutive years. Yeah, we’re getting old and tired, and the thrill of moving is gone, long gone. But I think it’s something more. We first came to Cadillac in northern Michigan almost fourteen years ago on a conviction this is where we needed to be, a belief reinforced by the circumstances coming together in exactly the way we needed. We left for a while and went back to Arkansas, but as it turned out it was important for us to be there at the time. Once that situation was finished, we chose to come back here, once again from a conviction God had things for us to do, and that’s why we stay.

I continue to study the Bible, meditate and pray for wisdom and God to continue to make me into the servant He desires. I believe He is growing in me a greater love for lost souls and a greater urgency in getting the gospel of hope to those searching for it. As I search for greater maturity in Christ, I also want to help others grow in Him as well. What shape that will take and what my role in any of it has yet to be fully realized or understood. No matter. When God is in control of your life, the only thing that matters is giving Him honor, praise and glory. That’s my real desire: I want my life, all of it, to be God’s glory, no matter what happens to me.

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