Control Is An Illusion

Author - Sydney Gunn

No one can control the devastation that happened in Lahaina. We can point fingers and create conspiracy theories about the cause of the fire, but our God is the ultimate one in control of all things - as hard as that can be at times. God isn't asking us to figure everything out; rather, He wants us to trust that He is in control.

Proverbs 3:4-5 states, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil."

We tend to put our Trust in ourselves, something else, or someone else. Rather than choosing to seek the Lord, we often seek our own understanding in a desire to control our situations. This week, our areas of service were reminders to me that God is in control.

Our time in Maui has been long and tiring yet very fulfilling. As hard as it can be, our team can't control how our efforts will affect everyone we interact with in Maui. Personally, I was feeling the desire for control in wanting to specifically have an impact on those who were affected by the fire. My heart struggled with most of what I had done the week before: stocking areas, cleaning, and working on a farm. All of these areas of service were important but did not fulfill the expectations I had wanted God to use me in. But God was in control; He knew what He was doing and that my heart was not in the right place. I kept praying that God would provide an opportunity for me to interact with those impacted by the disaster and that He would help my heart be in the right place when the time was right. Yet, in God's kindness, He continued to soften my heart and allowed me to interact with His people.

On Monday, our team went to the Napili Noho distribution center. This location was specific to only Lahaina residents. Two teammates and I were asked to volunteer in the grocery section. We were set up with an iPad - this generation's version of a cash register, to ring up all residents who went through the grocery store.

Our job was to type in everyone's address and ring up all their grocery items. Sometimes, all someone needed was a few snacks since they were staying in the hotel without any way to cook a meal. Other times, a mom was shopping for her whole family.

As I typed in each of their addresses and items, I couldn't help but think that behind each address was a name, and behind each name was a story—a story of how their life was affected because of the fire. Everyone we interacted with was so thankful. Smiles were on their faces despite the heaviness found in their hearts. While I didn't get to hear any of their specific situations, I knew a simple smile and courteous "Mahalo" (thank you Hawaiian style) was all they might need to see the joy of Christ in the situation they couldn't control.

At the end of our time there, I was beyond grateful for serving them in that capacity. Putting faces and addresses to names was helpful but hard for me. While I felt like I had made a difference in this situation, I had to remember that God was in control of all the areas I had been helping out in - whether it was in direct contact with people in the fire or not.

As our week went on, we entered various serving opportunities, from building military-grade tents to serving at Hope Chapel in their distribution center. On our last day, we returned to Hope Chapel, a distribution hub we had been helping out with throughout our time on the island. They placed me and Emma out front to greet everyone who came in. It was a powerful location for the Lord to use us in. I was grateful. We would meet individuals, hear a bit about their stories as they walked in, and pray for them when they left. Multiple families and ladies of my similar age who had lost their homes on the island came through. They weren't looking for handouts but needed a little help getting themselves back up on their feet. Tears from other women fell down their faces as I prayed for them and their families to remain safe and healthy. What I realized as we left was I was not in control. I couldn't control if people were coming to the distribution center for a handout or needed help due to the fire. I couldn't control whether my prayers for these families would lead them to the Lord or not. I realized I am not in control of how God uses the way we serve Him; He just asks us to love Him, and as a result of that love, we can serve Him in a capacity that shows others His love.

My prayer as we leave Maui is that the love of the Lord was shown to everyone we encountered as our team served. I'm praying God will use the love shown to encourage His people to surrender to Him and trust that He is in control of their lives despite their circumstances. As you complete this blog, I pray that you, too, will see that God is worthy of your Trust. He is faithful. Our God is a God who does not give up on His people. He will do what it takes to encourage you and those around you to run back to Him.

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