Releasing the Need for Control

By Paula Friedrichsen

Last summer, we enjoyed a family vacation in Maui. It was a wonderful trip with many exciting activities, but one incident - a kayaking adventure - had the greatest impact on me. God used this incident to teach me how to release my need for control.

When my husband and I were planning this vacation we decided to book the entire trip on-line. We had never done this before, but I'm pretty good on the computer, so we dug out our credit card, logged on and in only three hours we had booked our vacation.

A week or two later I went on-line again to book some family activities while on our Maui vacation. I booked a luau, a magic show and lastly, something called a "Kayak and Snorkeling Adventure".

Who knew we were going to be required to kayak over three miles that day? Who knew that one could get seasick on a kayak? Who knew how out of shape we really were?

The first challenge of our kayaking adventure was learning to kayak as a team. My husband was paired up with our eight-year old daughter in one kayak, and I was paired up with our fifteen-year old son in the other.

The second challenge was dealing with the sea itself. Rather than cutting smoothly and swiftly through scenic glassy waters, as I had envisioned, we strained every muscle in our attempts to cut through the choppy ocean swells.

Though my son is only fifteen, he is built like a tank, standing several inches taller then me and outweighing me by close to a hundred pounds. A football player, he works out regularly - clearly a great choice for the strong, backseat position.

We were instructed that the backseat kayak occupant was to use his paddles to steer the kayak, while the front person just keeps on paddling. Once we got out to the open sea, we discovered this trip would require constant steering and readjustment of our positions to avoid losing sight of our guide.

This really should not have been a problem, except I refused to let go and allow my son to take control. I kept trying to steer our kayak and change course, thinking that I was in a better position to judge where we should be going. Consequently, my son and I were fighting each other with our opposite moves. He finally said to me "Mom, unless you stop trying to steer, I can't do my job."

I struggled to let go, but when I did, things went much more smoothly.

God used this incident to teach me a deeper lesson about letting go of my need for control.

It is God's desire to lead each one of us, to reveal his will for our lives and lead us toward the best decision in every circumstance.

When we allow the Lord to steer, he makes our lives an enjoyable adventure. But if we think we know better and insist on taking over the controls - watch out!

It's so easy to sidestep God's word and commands in favor of doing our own thing. We may truly love the Lord and yet have a stubborn streak that deludes us into thinking that his word does not apply to us or to certain situations. When that happens, we have taken over the control of our lives (the kayak) and we will go in circles - getting nowhere with a whole lot of effort!

Think of it this way; the kayak guide is the word of God. We always adjust our position to follow the guide so we don't get lost. The backseat rider in the kayak is the Holy Spirit, sent to lead us into all truth. It's our job to paddle hard (live our lives to the best of our ability). It's his job to steer!

Paula Friedrichsen is a Christian Speaker, Columnist, and Radio Show Host living in Mammoth Lakes, California. She speaks in church meetings, conferences, and ladies retreats. Her latest project is a dynamic seminar entitled "The Abundant Life." To find out more about Paula's ministry visit her website at: or telephone: 760-935-4295

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