Nearly all of us have had thoughts along these lines: “If I go overboard in this area as a sacrifice, I will more than make up for it in this other desired area.” For example, “if I eat only rice cakes for a week, I’ll lose ten pounds forever and never gain them again.” “If I pull this all-nighter, I’ll keep my 4.0.” “If I max out my credit cards this month, I’ll get what I want and be able to pay it off in a couple of months.” The possible ‘deals’ we make with ourselves are as endless as our imaginations or our situations.
How’s that working for you?
When we deliberately throw our lives out of balance, we tend to find it much harder to get back in balance. This is often because we expect everything else to stay constant while we come back around. However, life is rarely that accommodating. When we are off balance, it doesn’t take much extra chaos in another area to knock us off of our feet. It becomes a vicious cycle and we try even more extreme measures of getting back on top of things.
What’s worse is that the older we get, the less flexible we seem to be in handling issues. I think part of this is because we have longer-instilled habits than when we were younger. Also, we have more responsibilities, entanglements, and/or things that constrain us in taking risks or finding an outlet for dealing with unexpected problems. Hopefully we have increased wisdom and resources that make up the difference.
Christ didn’t seem to have that problem. He recognized that maintaining perspective (generally achieved by keeping in close prayer contact with God), coupled with not getting overwrought when difficulty arose, and not biting off more than He could chew all allowed Him to have great equanimity whether He was teaching, healing, rebuking or being scourged. Note there is a real difference between equanimity and being unemotional. He got angry, showed surprise and pain, was happy, but he never really ‘lost it.’ He was in complete command of Himself and His situation.
This is actually the true definition of meekness—power under control, even when things were going ‘badly,’ He was still in control of Himself, and even his situation, choosing not to exercise His power to alter things to His apparent favor.
When we feel our lives are out of control, it is evidence that we are not displaying meekness. When looked at through this perspective, it makes a certain amount of sense, though discouraging at first: if the meek are to inherit the earth, would any other definition of meekness truly fit to be worthy of such a great inheritance? No. In fact, only Christ fits the bill with this definition, and the earth is prophesied to be His footstool.
Where does that leave us? Where we’ve always been—dependent on Him to accomplish anything. When our lives are out of control, are we spending time with Him in prayer, devotion, reading His word? Have we opened ourselves up to His direction for our day? He knows the next bit of life that is preparing to swing our way, and He would have us meet it with serenity and unshaken joy, and not overfrustrate us much. That we get that way shows the hole in our lives, and the way to fill it.