Each week at my home, I meet with a few women I am discipling. One of the women has an extended family with numerous issues involving deep hurt, dysfunction and downright craziness. She is burdened with each situation and through tears, she unpacked several for me this past week as we were meeting.
After listening to her, I said, “You are burdened by things you can’t control. You are upset about things you cannot change on your own. There is so much going on here, I believe you need to take inventory.
She said, “Inventory? What do you mean?”
I explained to her that she needs to take time to differentiate between what she could control and what she could not control. What she can’t control, she needs to give to God. I pulled out a sheet of paper for us to begin and then drew a line down the middle from top to bottom. The left column, I titled “Things I Cannot Control.” The right column, on the other hand, I titled “Things I Can Control.” I encouraged her to write down each item she had shared with me under one heading or the other. A part of her list looked like this:
Things I Cannot Control:
- If my sister gets a divorce
- Whether she gets custody of her children or not
- If I get mean text messages from my brother-in-law
- If there is tension at the next family holiday gathering
Things I Can Control:
- How much I pray for my sister’s marriage
- The amount I pray for placement of my nephews in a loving environment
- How I respond to mean text messages
- How I conduct myself at the next family gathering
- The amount of time I spend reading God’s Word
- Whether I am baited into family drama or not
I love that the Bible teaches us we can go to God with any prayers or requests, especially the things we feel powerless to change.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.”
We completed her list together and then presented each request to God. Each item she could not control she gave to God in prayer, thus trusting Him to work on her behalf with His perfect wisdom. I could tell as she prayed, the peace of God was filling her heart.
After we prayed, I encouraged her to then focus her energy on the items on the right side of her list, the things she can control.
Is there an area of your life you need to take inventory of today?
What do you need to give God in prayer? What can you focus your energies on more productively? I’ve likewise had to take my own advice. When I fear a situation, when I stress about a problem, I think, “Lori, what do you need to give to God in prayer? What are you worrying about that you cannot control?”
You know the curious thing is, every time I take inventory and give to God the things I feel powerless to change, I always find peace. He is the one that can make a difference with His unlimited power and love. When I give things to God, what I should focus on seems a bit more doable.
Why not pull out a piece of paper now? Take inventory of the situation or burden that is stealing your joy today.
Lori Joiner is an author, speaker and discipleship coach in Katy, Texas. When not writing, you can find her teaching group fitness classes at the YMCA, walking their chocolate lab with her husband Alan or playing board games with her two sons. You can reach out to her at LoriJoinerMinistries.org.