I want to be the one in control

At 3:30 p.m. on June 6, 2007, a 21-year-old Ben Carpenter drove his electric-powered wheelchair down the sidewalk in Paw Paw, Michigan. Ben began to cross the street in his wheelchair. When the light turned green, somehow a semi truck driver did not see Ben in his wheelchair. With Ben still in front of the truck, the engine roared to life, and the truck pulled forward. When the truck struck Ben’s wheelchair, the wheelchair turned, now facing forward, and the handles in the back of the wheelchair became wedged in the truck’s grille. The wheelchair kept rolling, though, and Ben, wearing a seatbelt, was held in his chair. The truck picked up speed, soon reaching 50 mph. While the driver continued along in his own little world of the truck cab, people along the road saw what was happening. Everyone seemed to see the drama unfolding but the driver. Finally, after two miles, the driver pulled into a trucking company parking lot, still clueless to the presence of Ben Carpenter pinned to the front of his truck. Thankfully, Ben was unharmed.

I think that story illustrates how many people feel about putting God in complete control of their life. God takes you places you never wanted to go. He moves too fast. He makes you into something you never wanted to be. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable.

I don’t want God in control of my money
I don’t want God to determine what job I go to
I don’t want him picking my spouse for me
I don’t want to trust God with everything.
I don’t want God to be the main influencer of where I live

Giving up control is so hard for us. Some of you don’t just want control, you want freakish control.

Last week I looked up control and found a Psychology today article entitled 7 Signs of a Control Freak. Tell me where you rank

1. You aren’t a good team player.
Joining a team means you have to give up some control and you don’t want to do that

2. You believe you are 100 percent responsible for your success.
They often say things like, “Failure isn’t an option,” and they’re overly critical of themselves.

3. You invest a lot of time into trying to convince other people to change.

4. You have trouble maintaining meaningful relationships.
No one ever says, “You know what I like about her? She’s a control freak.”

5. You spend a lot of energy trying to prevent bad things from happening.
Rather than prepare themselves for the storm, control freaks try to prevent the storm from coming.

6. You don’t delegate.
A control freak firmly believes if you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself.

7. You lack compassion for people who make mistakes.
They view mistakes as signs of laziness or stupidity, and they think everyone should succeed

Okay, based on that how many people here exhibit at least some signs of being a control freak? Here’s maybe a better question. How many of you didn’t take the test for themselves but you took it for your spouse?

Here’s the problem most of us have with following God. It’s a control issue. We want to call the shots.

What is the area of your life that you struggle most with control issues?

If you struggle with control issues there is a character I want you to meet. His name is Gideon.

The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

Let me explain what is going on here. Do you know what a winepress is? It’s a big vat that grapes were thrown in and then people trampled them with their feet to get the juice out. Did you see that episode of I Love Lucy where she’s stomping on grapes. That’s a winepress. My guess is the walls of this winepress where tall enough to hide in because that’s what Gideon is doing. Okay, let me put the pieces together. The Israelites are being pummeled by the Midianites. God is looking for the next great judge. He finds Gideon hiding in a winepress. This is the fearless leader God chooses to lead Israel which leads us to our first point.

Three misconceptions about giving up control of your life to God

1) You don’t have to be fearless to give up control

Look at the next verse.

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11,12

What did he call Gideon. Mighty warrior. When you encounter a mighty warrior you expect to see him sharpening his machete or just getting out of the weight room or exiting the octagon. Gideon is hiding in a winepress.

God sees qualities in you that you don’t even see
Here’s another quality you need to give up control

2) You don’t need unparalleled faith to give up control

So here Gideon is standing face to face with God. Look at Gideon’s response.

“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13

God just called him a mighty warrior. You’d think that would raise his confidence level and boost his ego. Get him ready for action. But what does he do. He is filled with doubt and questions.

Why has all this happened
What about all those wonders you used to do
Why have you abandoned us.

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14

Underline this line. Go in the strength you have.

The strength you currently have is enough to do what God is calling you to do

3) You don’t have to have a complete sense of security to give up control

Here’s a character quality I think we all share. Most people are insecure about some things. And some people are insecure about most things. You probably find yourself somewhere in the that middle range.

Two quotes that I read put our culture in perspective.

Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, estimates that 95 percent of people in our society have a strong sense of inadequacy.

On the other hand Ashleigh Brilliant wrote this. “All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance.”

I love it. I think this is where we live. We want to feel this sense of our own importance but we have all these insecurities. It’s who we are as people.

We are an insecure people generally. But when God asks us to do something that insecurity gets dialed up to past ten. That certainly was the case with Gideon. Look at his response.

“But Lord , ” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Judges 6:15-17

Gideon says to God, “Look I’m unqualified. My tribe is the least in the tribes of Israel. and he’s right. Manasseh wasn’t one of the original twelve tribes. It was a sub tribe of Reuben and Simeon. My tribe is the least, and my family is the least of the tribes and I’m the least in my family. He’s just brimming with confidence, isn’t he?

Gideon and all his security gives us one more insight about the people God uses.

Your resume and family history, however uninspiring, are enough for God to use you

4) You don’t have to have the assurance that the odds are in your favor to give up control

Judges 7:1-22

Gideon gathers his army from Israel and he does pretty good. He gathers 32,000 men. Not bad, right. Unfortunately there are 150,000 midianites and they have gathered another 50,000 from neighboring tribes. At this moment I can promise you Gideon is thinking one thing. It’s not enough. But that’s not what God thinks. He tells Gideon to weed them out and anyone who’s scared can go home. At that point 22,000 men leave. I’m sure Gideon is freaking out. Then God comes to him again and says “There are still too many. Go down to the river and watch them drink. The ones that drink like a dog by putting their face in the water send home and the ones who cup their hands, keep.” You gotta believe Gideon is thinking “Cup your hands, come on now, cup your hands you animals.” Do you know how many cupped their hands? 300. So now Gideon has 300 verses 200,000. And this is what happens. God tells him to send each man into the Midianite army at night with a trumpet, a clay pot and a torch in the clay pot. On his signal they are to blow their horn and break the pot exposing the torch. Then came the moment of truth. Gideon gave them the signal, they blew their horns and dropped their pots and at that instant the Midian army went into a panic and started killing each other. Guys, want to know the final tally. Look at Judges 8.

A hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen (that day). Judges 8:10

This brings us to one last lesson God has for us.

If you feel like you don’t have enough strength, supplies, or smarts to pull off your current task then you are just where God wants you.

The story of Gideon tells us one thing. If God is asking you to do something for Him, you have what you need. You’ve got it all. So let’s take a second and review.

o Do you have a knee knocking, teeth chattering fear?
o Do you have paralyzing doubt?
o Do you have a crippling insecurity?
o Are you inadequately supplied?

Often times this is where we are at in our lives. Despite all of your liabilities, God can still use you. All you need to do is take one step. Give up control.