Control, Trusting God

Control: When We Choose to Trust

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I strolled along the beach just after the sun came up, staying to the “combed” part of the sand. I didn’t want the inconvenience of getting my feet crusted with wet sand and then having to rinse them off before I wandered inside the hotel.

As sand crumbled beneath my toes, I was stuck by the way the waves smoothed part of the sand as they washed upon the shore. How they recorded their mark of how far they rolled up and then crept back to where they began.

The contrast intrigued me.

So few footprints marred the smooth surface, while many prints left their mark on the combed, section beyond the waterline.

I thought about how often I walk in the “safe zone” of life. I don’t choose to venture near the waves. Sometimes, I don’t want the inconvenience of the unexpected.

Other times, it feels too risky to set my feet on the damp, smooth surface that edges the waterline. A large wave could sweep up and disrupt my perfectly laid out plans. Or worse, one rogue wave could derail my plans entirely.

I’ve lived too much of my life moving in the safe zone, where most live their daily lives. I’ve traversed the expected pathways, where many people seem to travel.

Maybe it’s time to brave the unexpected. To choose to walk alone sometimes.

Near the waves in the smooth sand.

Perhaps it’s time to live anticipating what God might want to do, how He may want to reveal Himself to me.

The thing is, in order to walk in the smooth sand, I need to let go of the fear of a disruption or something “bad” happening. If I choose to walk in the smooth sand, its possible I’ll have seasons of my feet, knees, waist, neck being sloshed by the waves of life.

Walking outside the safe zone–walking nearer the water where waves lap onto the shore–means I need to trust God. Trust Him to lead where He wants me to step next.

It’s when I tiptoe close to the water’s edge, or dip my toes into the water, that I’m choosing to let Him control what happens to me. If I choose to trust Him with all of me—my physical life, my dreams, my fears—sometimes things will get messy.

But walking at the waterline of life is where I experience what it means to really live. Because it’s close to the water’s edge where I know God’s presence best.

When I trek on the boardwalk, I’m safe and more in control (or at least that’s what I think). I determine where I step next. I decide how much risk to take.

The thing is? When I stick close to the water’s edge, I may be vulnerable, but I’m also held in the hands of the One who loves me most.

As I enter into this new year, I want to dip my toes in the water of trust. To let God lead me where He wants me to go.

It’s a little scary to write that. It’s only as I walk closely with Jesus, His hand guiding me, that I will truly learn to live with abandon.

What about you? What encourages you to live in a place of not knowing what’s coming next? When have you lived with abandon?

Click to Tweet: We have to choose—will we walk in the safe zone or near the water’s edge

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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37 thoughts on “Control: When We Choose to Trust”

  1. Safe zone’s an illusion, and there are things that are beyond terrifying perhaps waiting just round the bend…and they may get us. They got me.

    Not so much ‘trust’ now as acceptance. Just part of life. Never was promised safety or success or comfort. Look what happened to Jesus.

    Just need to believe it all has meaning, and that the long night will end. And I do.

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    1. Andrew, you are right. The “Safe Zone” really is an illusion, but it seems so real sometimes. And it’s true, sometimes life’s worst strikes at the most unexpected times. The way you have chosen to deal with your beyond-horrible situation has transformed you and given you a rare perspective. We are never promised ease, safety, success, or comfort. We tend to think that these things are the expected norm, but God never guarantees them.

      What He wants more than anything is our hearts. When we live with a willingness to look to Him, regardless of what comes into our lives, we are choosing trust. The way you’ve accepted your situation has inspired many. Thank you for always being real, my friend.

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  2. Without trust, there is no hope. And vice-versa.

    Your oceanside story resonates deeply, Jeanne. I want to step out on the water. But my feet always wander back to the safe places.

    Comfort zone intact, I wonder what I missed along the way …

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    1. Agreed, Linda. My feet tend to wander to the safe places, but I’m praying about being open to walking at the water line, trusting God, no matter what. May we both give up the combed sand to walk closer to our Father. 🙂

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  3. Beautiful metaphor, Jeanne. It made me think how our steps don’t seem to last in the smooth sand but God counts our steps and we can simply continue moving forward.

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    1. Vondelle, you bring up a beautiful point. Our footprints don’t last in the smooth sand, but God does count our steps. He sees our hearts as we seek to draw closer to Him, and He honors that desire with the nearness of His presence.

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  4. I have always chosen the safe zone. I feel most in control there. But God pulls me away from the comfortable and teaches me that I all I need is Him. That definitely is the story of brave faith that God continues to have me walk out with Him.

    Your story resonates with me and I imagine so many others. It sounds like you might enjoy my Brave Faith devotional. 😉 Thank you for sharing your experience and the lessons God is teaching you along the way.

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    1. Mary, you and I are so similar. That safe zone calls to me like a siren in the sea. That desire for control makes me feel safe. But, God . . . We are safest when we are close to Him, right? Watching your story unfold over the past few years has been beautiful, my friend. Thank you for sharing your insights here.

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  5. Whoa, Jeanne, are you reading my mail? Quite literally — I just got an email with a new and scary opportunity to serve offered up like a gift (and a warning — this will not be easy).
    Thanks for sharing insights that make me want to stick my toe in the cold Atlantic and see what God will do.

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  6. These photos are so inviting, Jeanne. I love the feel of walking in sand with bare feet and the sound of the ocean. I haven’t had the privilege often in my life, but I treasure the times I did. Like you, I want to dip my toes into the water of trusting God. “It’s only as I walk closely with Jesus, His hand guiding me, that I will truly learn to live with abandon.” So very true! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. I’m with you, Trudy. Walking barefoot in the sand feels . . . unencumbered. And the sound of the waves? LOVE it.

      May we both be intentional about dipping our toes into the waters of trusting God. Thank you for your words here today. Sending you love and hugs back!

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  7. Your photos here are stunning, Jeanne, and I so relate to the conflict between the desire to play it safe and the longing to step out where God is calling. I know the times I have stepped out of my “safe” zone the rewards have been more than worth it but I still have the temptation to cling to control at times. I need to remind myself that being with God is really the safest place to be, no matter how it seems.

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    1. Thank you, Lesley. I agree that when we trust God and step out of the safe zone He meets us there and gives surprising rewards. I think relinquishing control is one of my life-long lessons. Sigh. And yes, being with God is by far the safest place to be. Thank you for sharing your insights here, friend!

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  8. Jeanne,
    Beautiful imagery here!! In keeping with your ocean analogy, I have found that when I stand up and try to go against the flow of the waves (God’s will), I get knocked on my behind every times, but I watch the seaweed just ebb and flow with the waves. They don’t fight against it. I think that’s what God wants of me to lie down and go WITH the ebb and flow rather than stand up and fight against it. So much we can learn from His creation….loved this!
    Blessings friend,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I’ve done that too. Tried to stand against the waves rather than move in rhythm with them. I’ve found though, that when I sway with the waves there’s a certain peacefulness that comes with that. I love feeling the motion rock my body back and forth. And for a brief time, I sometimes relish letting the waves crash against my body. But in the spiritual walk, opposing the waves wears me out very quickly.

      May we both grow in going with the ebb and flow of the waves that we encounter this year, my friend. So thankful for you!

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  9. I told Tom just yesterday that it had been too long since we’d been to the beach. I love the beach, maybe because I feel especially close to the Lord there, where His presence is tangible. It’s also the place where He has teased and challenged me to go deeper. Blessings and prayers as you venture more into the water line.

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    1. Alice, I love the beach too. Just not laying in the sand all day. I enjoy warm water all around me, and playing monkey-in-the-middle with my guys. 🙂 I love how you describe God teasing (good-naturedly, I’m sure) and challenging you. Thank you for your blessings and prayers, my friend!

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  10. Looks like you had a wonderful vacation where sandy shores are abundant! May you continue to walk in waves, faithfully knowing you are being guided by Him, and growing in trust in wisdom. I say this too as just today my study reading was James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” The waves actions are dictated by their environment, but we are not when choose to be rooted in Christ.

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    1. Lynn, we did have a wonderful vacation. We spent Christmas in Hawaii with my husband’s family. His parents and one brother (+family) live there. I love pictures of the ocean. And beaches. And sunrises. And . . . 😉

      James 1:6—what a great verse to share here today. We don’t want to be like those wind-tossed waves, do we? I like the idea of walking at the water’s edge in complete confidence, not doubt and fear. Yes, being rooted in Christ does keep us from being tossed about by the changing weather patterns life gives us. Great analogy, Lynn!

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    1. Sarah, we’re alike that way. Comfort is usually my go-to mode. But, that is seldom God’s go-to mode for me. Though it’s hard, when I know Jesus is the disruptor it’s easier to embrace the new and release the comfortable. Thanks for sharing here today, Sarah!

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  11. Hi Jeanne,
    I’ve seen your comments often on the posts of others but I’ve rarely stopped by here and I’m not sure why! Your photos in this post are lovely and your words resonated with me today. I treasure my routine and time alone and find my comfort in them but God is disrupting them to show me that maybe things can be different than I would think. This is stretching me in ways I couldn’t imagine but yet inviting me to trust him for the future, uncertain though it might be. So glad I stopped by today and plan to be a regular reader! 🙂

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    1. Hi Valerie, I’m so glad you stopped over here to introduce yourself! Like you, I love my routine. It’s so easy to control, or so I think. Whenever God disrupts things in our lives, He has bigger plans than we can currently see, doesn’t He? I hope that in the stretching you sense His pleasure in you. I’m blessed by your words! Have a wonderful rest of your week.

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  12. I like walking in the softer sand, too–mostly because I don’t want to get sand stuck to my feet…which is another great analogy for my life–I don’t like getting dirty. Yesterday I put aside my fastidiousness and volunteered for lice duty in the dorm. It was a beautiful experience.

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  13. This is what I want for this year too, Jeanne: “To let God lead me where He wants me to go.” I can relate to so much of what you’ve written … fearing the worst, wondering if something bad is going to happen. What I’m starting to think is, “well, what if it does?” Bad things have happened, and we’re still here, still finding God’s hand in it all, still learning and growing and trying to take one day at a time. I guess what is encouraging me to live not knowing what’s coming is that I’ve actually been doing that in some parts of my life, so now it’s time to apply it to other parts. Phew. Thank you for helping me to process this, my friend. I needed this today. 🙂

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    1. Lois, being in that place of yieldedness isn’t easy, is it? You’re so right though. When we walk through “worse and worse-er” and come out on the other side? We survived it. Your example of holding tight to God and taking one day at a time through your personal circumstances has been an inspiration to me. I’m so glad God used these words. Sending you a big hug!

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  14. Sometimes, when things are really bad in life, we must make an effort to trust … again. Through gritted teeth even. Our trust and prayers strengthen our faith because it shows we believe there is Someone out there listening.

    God bless.

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    1. Victor, thank you for adding your perspective here. You’re right. Sometimes that effort to trust is one we have to choose over and over. And I find great comfort in knowing God is “out there,” and as close as my next breath. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  15. I’m right there .. on the water’s edge. Trying not to be fearful or controlling, but also unsure. Your words encouraged me and made me brave today, Jeanne. Thank you.

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    1. Christa, too many times, I’ve been by the water’s edge. It’s HARD to not try to control the situations or to not give in to fear, isn’t it? It seems like God gives us opportunities to trust and to learn to surrender. Sometimes we get it right, and other times we don’t. But our gracious Father loves us anyway. 🙂 I’m glad these words were an encouragement!

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