A friend and I were discussing prayer, both having read Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life.  She mentioned that she had started a prayer journal where each day she writes down the things over which she has no control.  That ‘title’ for one’s worries all of a sudden opened up a way to articulate so many MORE concerns in my life.  I hadn’t realized what resided in the bottom of the muck pool of my mind.  New topics to pray about and actually hand over to God started to leave this familiar, fetid place and venture into new territory.  I grew excited about the possibilities!

As soon as I got home, I found a diary with a few blank pages left and wrote the date and the title:  Today I Have No Control Over…..  As soon as I had written down 5-6 things, I said to God, “Here, YOU take and handle them today.”   It was easy and left me feeling lighter.

The next morning, I could hardly wait to get up and write down the new day’s concerns over which it was apparent I have no control.  Of course, one could get carried away with all sorts of situations..but I confined myself to concerns in my life that day: younger son’s projects at college, older son’s fears about supporting his family, husband’s discomfort stemming from a controlling & dysfunctional boss, in-laws’ declining health and their fears about making it to the wedding in June, a scheduling problem to be sorted out with a Travelocity rep located on the other side of the world, French classes’ scheduled for the day and their energy level and response to my input.

Several days create a habit.  What has surprised me is the spread of my new consciousness over items I really don’t control.  Apparently the very act of writing them down has trained my mind to respond ‘properly’ during other parts of my day.  I heard some bad news this afternoon and immediately thought – “I have no control over that, Lord, that’s YOUR department”.  No time in my in-box of worry.  So I have freedom to keep a mental diary handy, with its column already set up, ready to receive MORE items.  This is fun!

I did run into my friend and shared with her how much her brief 20 second explanation had changed me.  I wanted her to be encouraged about the positive influence we can have on those around us and maybe not even know it!

The other mind-altering thought came from a blog post by Ray Ortlund.  He mentioned in ONE sentence that ‘our okay-ness’ is located outside of us. I took that to mean that if there is anything worthy or beautiful about me, it’s because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to me.  There is nothing noteworthy about me beyond the fact that I am made in the image of God.  As Paul says several places and actually quotes (is that a retweet?) the Old Testament prophet – “, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord'” (from Jer 9:23; I Cor. 1:31)

The application for me was that I have no reason to defend myself – EVER.  The truth is, at it dawned on me; no one can hurt me with criticisms or put- downs.  If I already know that ‘no good thing resides in me’ – Rom 7:18 – then I am FREE.  I can give a logical response to a personal attack. “Yes, you’re correct that I………And your point is?”

All in one week, I have been given two gifts.  First, I can stop doing God’s work for Him – by worrying about things only He has sovereign control over and second, I can stop defending myself, since there is really nothing to defend.  What amazing power resides in ideas!