It was good not to have control.
I was driving back to campus for Halcyon Hall’s late-night residence hall worship. Something compelled me to listen to Christian contemporary band for King and Country’s song “Control,” a song I had only listened to a few times before. So I queued up the song on my phone’s Spotify app, connected to my car’s radio via Bluetooth, and turned up the volume.
The song, simple in its honesty, reverberated through the speakers. You asked me to let go, but I thought I knew better, afraid of surrender and what I don’t know. I thought of the devotional I had prepped for the worship that night. I planned to start working on it a few days before, assuming that it’d only take me an hour max to put together. I had a certain passage and structure planned already, too. I had written numerous devotions before, so I was pretty confident in my ways of inspirational thought.
But I had written it and rewritten it, gone one direction on it and then another. Each approach I took didn’t seem right, and I hadn’t been sure why, until earlier that day when I finally realized I hadn’t surrendered the thing to God. I hadn’t let go because I thought I was skilled enough to do it on my own. I even thought I knew better than God what I needed to speak on. But when I finally prayed for God to take the devotional over, the words came, and I hoped they were the right words the women of Halcyon Hall needed to hear.
The song continued: “I’ve always had a plan, but now I’m so weary, and I can’t see clearly, forgot who I am.” I began to grasp that my lack of surrender with my devotional was a small reflection of my recent tendency not to surrender in my chaplain role. I had a plan for each Campus Ministries program, a plan for my daily tasks, even a plan for interacting with students. I was good at planning; I trusted my preparation, but of course, there were often when things didn’t go according to plan. My response: plan better next time.
But with each plan, with each time I did my best to control for what I thought would be the best outcome, I noticed that I was losing sight of God’s plans – His intention for each program, His purpose for my every day, His vision for community. As a result, I was getting weary, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Maybe as with my devotional for that night, I just needed to surrender, to let go, to give up control.
As the song moved from verse to pre-chorus, I knew what was coming up next. I knew why God prompted me to play this song. Rolling back the sunroof and putting down the windows, I joined for King and Country in the resounding cry of the chorus. I give up control, oh, oh, whoa. Body, mind, and soul, oh, oh, whoa. Can’t do this on my own, no, no. I give up control.
It was a small act of surrender, an acknowledgment that though I had done my best to remain in control of what I did as a chaplain, I had no control, but God did; He had control of the outcome of this devotional with Halcyon Hall, He had control of each program I planned. He had control of my day-to-day duties as a chaplain. I ultimately didn’t have control of any of it, and it was better that way. For only when I’m in a state of surrender can God show me all He has planned.
That night, I had the chance to hear some of the Halcyon Hall women’s dreams and struggles, was able to encourage them by the devotional and was even asked by one student about what she could do to be rebaptized. It was a beautiful night of no control.
By Chaplain Chelsy Tyler