Access to the Remote

Recently I was talking to a good friend of mine and as we visited over the phone, we finally got around to talking about the big ball game that was coming up the next weekend. Both of us were interested in it, but we began to talk about how late the game was going to be on television. Late night games for most preachers and pastors on a Saturday night is not a good thing. My friend commented that he probably wouldn’t be able to see the first part of it. I asked why not. “Well,” he said, “I’ll have to wait a little later. I can see the end of the game. At 10:30 each night, I get access to the remote.”

I said, “Do what?” He said, “At about 10:30 p.m. my wife always goes to bed.” At that point, he explained, he gets access to the remote. Of course, he was talking about the television channel changer. In most homes, whether there are two or ten and sometimes if there is only one, there are two questions that are repeatedly faced. The first one is, “Where is the remote?”  That can happen even if you live all alone and nobody but you has been in your house for the last six months. The other question is “Who is going to hold (that is, control) the remote?”

I personally have never known a married couple to get a divorce over the remote, but I have known a number of people that may have been headed in that direction until they came to their senses and realized they were simply arguing about changing a picture on a television. It’s amazing how that little remote brings about such conflict and confusion in some families. For my friend, he was at peace with her and himself in having the remote all to himself during the fourth quarter of the game and being able to decide whether he wants to watch the rest of it or change the channel. Life is good.

What many of us have never understood is that there is a remote control — a change agent — at work in each of our lives. To be Lord of our lives, Jesus wants access to your remote control. Listen to Jesus as He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). On occasion Jesus looked at the group of people who were there before Him and He said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? In other words, why would you say I can control your life and change your wrong direction into the right direction, and then not give Me that control? Why would you pretend I am Lord when you won’t let Me do what I need to do in your life?

To be honest, I think most of us from time to time come to a serious spiritual encounter with the Lord where we want Him to be Lord and we will give Him access — total access — to the changed part of our lives until it comes to some point that we want to take it back. There are other times when we may deal with giving Jesus access to our remote on a partial basis, or maybe certain compartments of our lives, while we hold on to the right not to allow Him into other compartments or change some part with which we particularly don’t want Him interfering. We may think that’s a way we can operate but the old, powerful cliché statement is true:  If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

When you look at that verse where Jesus spoke to us and said, “You must deny yourself,” I truly believe most of us have certain areas of our lives where we devotedly, diligently desire to deny ourselves while on the other hand, there may be places and times and desires with which we struggle. Then there is the big portion that says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” I have caught myself at times interpreting that to think that I am the one who is in charge. You tell me where we’re going, and I’ll decide if we’re going to go down that path.

Jesus does not deal with us on that plane because when He called us, it was to a faith relationship knowing that He who knows all and loves above all will lead us in the right direction. You and I don’t have to question Him, and we don’t have to demand that He tell us all of the ins and outs, twists and turns, of the path down which He may lead us. He says to give Him access to the remote and follow Him whether it changes from hot to cold, from this direction to that, up on the hill or down in the valley.

Maybe there are areas of your life where you have passionately held on to the control. Maybe it has to do with your family or your job or your temper or your stewardship or your service or some addiction or some conflict. Regardless of what it is, let the Lord have access to your remote control and you will find every time that He will lead you in the right way and into green pastures.

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Jim Futral

Executive Director-Treasurer