I once was leading a group session as a counselor at an adolescent treatment facility. There were about a dozen kids in the group. We were outside on a deck between two buildings. There were two brothers in the group – 16, 17 years old. One of them had been in the facility for several months, the other only a few days. They got into some kind of argument and it escalated until it was disrupting the group. I went over to them and told them to cut it out. The newer one kept it going. I stepped up to him, face to face, but not really in his face, and told him I needed him to settle down so we could continue the group. He went into an aggressive stance – clenched fists, staring me down. He was about my height but 20-30 pounds heavier, 20-30 pounds of solid muscle. I started thinking, “He’s going to hit me, and it’s going to hurt.”
But, you see, he needed to know some things. He needed to know that he was not running things; he was not in charge and he was not going to be in charge and that was okay. He also needed to know that there was a better way to handle life than what he was exhibiting that day and what he had learned – fighting, stealing, assaulting, vandalizing, running away. And he needed to know that I and the rest of the treatment program staff cared about him enough to respect him, to challenge him, and to help him.
To my great relief, he did not hit me. He calmed down and after group apologized for his behavior, and I thanked him for his cooperation. Several months later, when he was being moved to another facility, he hugged me, thanked me, and said he was scared. He would not have made that admission that day in group. I told him I understood how he felt but I knew he could make it because he had made changes and was headed in the right direction.
If you are a Christian, a follower of Jesus, you need to understand those same things about Christ’s relationship with you. You are not in charge; you are not running life, yours or anyone else’s. He is – not just will be – Lord. When you have faith in Christ, you are embedded in his Kingdom living under his authority. That doesn’t mean that he micromanages everything or that everything which happens is his will. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have any freedom or responsibility. But he is in charge and that is okay; in fact, it is very, very good.
And you need to understand that his way of living is better than your way of living. He gives life that is abundant. That doesn’t mean that he merely blesses you with good things and good feelings. As you trust him and learn from him, you can accept and follow new desires, new dreams, new priorities, new behaviors that come from Christ.
And you need to understand that everything he wants for you and everything he does for you is because he loves you. That doesn’t mean he merely pats you on the head and gives you an encouraging word. He cares about you enough to challenge you when you need it. He cares about you enough to carry you when you need it. And he cares about you enough to enable you yourself to love others like he does. His love is available to fill you and to overflow from you and energize all you do.
You can make it, headed in the right direction, by learning to trust Jesus Christ.