• Debbie Salter Goodwin

The Control Myth


What do you do when life is out of control?


I don’t know about you, but I get testy, which is just a polite word for cranky. I don’t want the pieces of my carefully planned and organized day to go rogue. I fight against it until I realize it is a losing battle.


So how do you respond? Do you go into overdrive to control what you can? Do you feel complaint mixed with whine begin to bubble up? Do you connect control with security or identity and ramp up efforts to protect both?


These are important growth-revealing questions. Who can lead us through them better than Sarah from the Bible? She gets A+ for her control efforts but a big fat F for their results.

You remember Sarah’s story. She’s always hidden behind Abraham, the great covenant leader God raised up to father a nation. Abraham is the one we study. In fact, you won’t find much more than a chapter about Sarah in published books or Bible studies. She isn't on our list of great women of the Bible.


And yet, Sarah was God’s choice as covenant partner as much as Abraham. She just needed a lot more work.


That should give us confidence. God didn’t pick perfect people. That’s important to remember because Sarah was far from a perfect candidate for God’s choice to mother a nation. But He didn’t treat Sarah as extra baggage. God saw her strengths: her resourcefulness though misguided and her strong will which could be channeled. Sarah has become my number one model to remind me that control is an unnecessary strategy. More often than not, the security ropes we set in place for ourselves come undone when we try to control anything or anyone but ourselves.


During these summer months, I want to take us on the journey that Sarah didn't ask for that took away from her comfortable world and ripped control out of her hands. I want us to put her choices under a magnifying glass, not to disgrace her, but to learn from her. Most importantly, I want us to see how God never gave up on her. Never. In fact, He raised his resourceful hand in powerful ways when Sarah was powerless and totally out of control.


There is a transformational story here. It may have started with control, but it ended with surrender. God did not leave Sarah to her own devices. He did not remove her from His plan because of her attempts to control what was already in God’s control. She became co-creator with God. She became Abraham’s God-chosen covenant partner. She became who God always knew she could become.

Isn’t that what we want? To become who God always knew we could become. Our birth into this world is an act of God’s investment in us. What we do with that investment is our story. But here is the question we must answer:

is it the story God wants to write ?


Sarah proves it is never too late to trade control for surrender. God is always ready to take over the story so He can write an ending we cannot create for ourselves.


Until next time, think about these questions:

Where is control important for you?

When do you go into overdrive to gain or regain control?

Where do try to control how others perceive you?

How do you respond when you have little to no control?

When is control helpful? When is it hurtful?


Is there more freedom without control?

Maybe we should find out!




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