God is in control.
How many times have you heard that? Said that? And of course it’s true!
But the interpretation most of us give to that statement provides an incomplete picture. It’s not that God is less than completely in control; it’s that you have control too.
Not ultimate control, mind you. But real control. In the sense that God has given you executive authority over many things. Your choices and actions really do make a difference, especially in your own life and the lives of those closest to you.
I talk with so many people who feel stuck. They feel unwell, depressed, lonely, worried, or bitter. In no way do I want to minimize the very real hurts and struggles you experience. Life is often hard! But you have much more choice in the matter than you realize. And by not making choices and taking action you are making the choice to stay stuck.
Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “I’ve determined that most people are about as happy as they decide to be.” That’s certainly proven true in my own life. And much of it depends on the choices you make and the actions you take.
So what about this executive authority God has given you?
The Biblical Perspective
When God created humankind He gave us humans “dominion” over things on earth. (Genesis 1:26-28) Adam and Eve’s decisions and actions would have a very real impact on the world around them. The Garden of Eden would come to reflect the way in which they did their “job.”
Sin came, and Satan has thereby usurped the degree of authority God originally gave to humankind. But that does not change the way God originally created you to be, or the power of your choices and actions. Again, not absolute power in any way, but real power.
Throughout Scripture God gives humankind choices, and He honors them. He arranged for Joseph to be second in command in Egypt, and Joseph’s leadership saved countless lives during the years of famine. (Genesis 51:37-49) God could have had storehouses miraculously appear on the Egyptian landscape and filled them with grain, but He used Joseph.
On the negative side, when the children of Israel were nearing the Promised Land and chose to doubt God and refuse to enter when He told them to, He honored their choice and sent them to wander in the wilderness for decades. (Numbers 14)
Many other Old Testament stories demonstrate the same principle; Ruth, David, Solomon, many more.
And in the New Testament the principle becomes even clearer. Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
Did you catch that? God works. And we work. Yes, there are things God does that we cannot do! And there are things God gives us choices about, where our actions make a real difference in the outcome.
Contemporary scientific research adds color to our understanding of this Biblical principle. While there are many things we cannot change, research demonstrates that people who choose to focus on the choices they do have are much happier and more resilient.
This has been demonstrated powerfully in studies of prisoners of war. Some POWs were never able to fully re-enter life after their horrific experiences. Others came through mentally intact and experienced what is called post-traumatic growth. One of the primary differences between those groups is what they mentally focused on during their imprisonment; those who focused on the small choices they did have – such as how quickly to eat their one small portion of food, or what attitude to maintain when interrogated – were those who came through well.
There is also a significant body of research on spirituality and health demonstrating that people who see themselves as working together with God, collaborating with Him, come through problems with more physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. God and us working together.
What You DO Have Executive Authority Over
So what does this mean for you?
There are many things you cannot change; the weather, the past, other people, the general amount of evil in the world.
But there are places you do have executive authority. Here are a few choices you do have:
- How healthy your diet is (within limits)
- How much to exercise, and in what format
- Whether or not to be grateful for good things
- The mental diet you feed your mind
- The impact you have on the people closest to you
- What to say Yes to, and what to say No to
And there are countless other choices you have as well.
Exercising those choices is what it means to exercise the executive authority God has given you in this life. It’s not absolute power, but it’s real. You’re only a victim if you choose to see yourself that way. Yes, you’ve been wounded; now what are you going to do about it?
This is the principle underlying the two-part prayer I often pray myself, and encourage others to pray:
- Jesus, come into the middle of this! I need You! I can’t do this on my own!
- Jesus, what step do You want me to take next?
In this context I like the word Navigator. You get to choose how to navigate through your life. Yes, you need help; you can’t do it alone. There are challenges to navigate through. But as the Navigator your choices make a real difference.
And especially for women in midlife, when so many things are changing, our Navigating Midlife course is just the place to help you understand and actually take the necessary actions as you navigate well.
Choose to be the Navigator of Your Life Today
Your Turn: Have you tended to sit back and wait for things to happen, rather than focusing on the choices you do have? What’s the next choice you can make, the next action you can take today? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- God has given you executive authority over many aspects of your life. Are you focusing on those? Are you making the choices and taking the actions you can? Tweet that.
Are You Navigating Your Midlife Season?
As a woman it can be tempting to let midlife and menopause happen to you. But this is an area you can exercise the executive authority God has given you. You can stop being a victim – to your hormones or anything else – and choose to become the navigator of your life starting now.
Join me in the Navigating Midlife online course, and discover how this season can become the best season of your life.