Bugs. Crabs pinching my feet. Sharks. Sparklers. Snakes. Psychopaths. These are all things (or people) of which I am afraid and don't mind admitting to myself. However, if I am honest, they really aren't my greatest fears. They do not keep me up at night or haunt me in my dreams. Thoughts about them do not constantly race through my mind, leaving me physically and mentally depreciated and even more susceptible to the enemy's lies. My biggest fear is losing control. Perhaps one of the most damaging lies I tell myself is: I need to be in control of everything in my life. I cannot trust others - they do not know what is best for me, what my life needs to look like and be. I must be in control 100% of the time - of my emotions, habits, work, and future. We could debate where the need to control came from. Instability resulting from being in the middle of a less than amicable divorce. Chastisement and judgment from a person whose acceptance I craved, after crying and being vulnerable. The call to grow up quickly and keep it together for my little brothers, my friends - to be their pillar of strength and not expose the hollowness of my own manufactured tenacity. There are a myriad of reasons and encounters that engendered the lie that I could - and needed to - do everything myself and my way. The dismal fact is that what the lie really boils down to is this simple falsehood: I cannot trust God to know what is best for me. I cannot bow before Him with open hands, offering Him my future. Trusting Him is too frightening and unpredictable. I'll take the spiders please. Just let me remain in control. It astounds me how quickly I forget what God has done for me when I have trusted Him. How liberating it was to hand Him my life and feel the stress, anxiety, gloom, and feelings of inadequacy melt off my shoulders. I forget the joy of an answered prayer, of an unexpected provision, of a new, exciting road not yet taken. I forget God might not be predictable, but He is faithful. "Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God" (Psalm 31:5, NIV). However, my God is a loving and gracious God who patiently waits for me to return to Him. He does not forsake me when my mind and actions wander. Instead, He keeps speaking - through His Word, His people, His creation - and He calls out my name. Recently, I once again found myself in a stressful situation in which I had no control. As you know, college is not exactly cheap. I was informed by a family member that they might not be able to pay their part of my brother’s and my tuition this year. That meant I needed to come up with $13,000, and Justin needed to come up with $15,000. I planned on studying abroad this summer and now found myself applying for paid internships at the last minute, calculating how big a loan I would be able to take, and worrying about Justin's chances of procuring that amount of money so quickly. I did not stop to think about it at the time, but the Lord was already providing. I had recently been chosen to be a first-year Resident Assistant, which offers not only a rewarding experience loving and leading residents (I seriously can't wait to meet my girls!!), but also allocates free housing. I have a job at the AFC, a gym on-grounds, and I will not be forced to purchase a $5,000 meal plan (sorry first-years). After subtracting the amount my mom and stepdad were going to contribute, I only had $6000 or so remaining - an amount I could cover between a loan and work over the summer. I really did not have much to worry about. Sure, it wasn't my plan, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be okay. However, it was only after a lot of prayer and time that I was able to trust God with my plans and get over my frustration. Justin treated the whole situation differently. First of all, he wasn't going to be an RA, did not have a job on-grounds, and could not change any of his fixed costs. Plus, he faced a tuition increase in addition to the already greater cost of being a student in the School of Engineering. His situation was much more dire than mine, especially in light of the fact that he could only get a maximum of $5000 in student loans. But He prayed. Justin trusted God would produce a miracle, and he worked hard to do his part. For over a month, he wrote essay after essay, applying for numerous scholarships, working every night after coming home from track practice, and barely seeing his friends. As the last scholarship deadline passed and the work was turned in, he was exhausted but at peace. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, NASB). One Sunday, my mom saw Justin with tears in his eyes in the middle of our church service. She asked him what was wrong, and he replied: "God said He is going to provide. That there is no reason to worry." He told me this multiple times when I came home from UVA and asked if him if he was anxious about his situation. “God is going to provide, Emily. He told me to trust Him so why should I worry?” It's a convicting moment when you realize your "little" brother is now a man and has a faith even stronger than yours. It's a freeing moment when you realize your little brother has taught you a lesson in letting go. Justin was right to trust God because my, oh my, did He provide. Scholarships are awarded to seniors at a banquet the last week of school. Justin was called up to the stage time after time to the surprise of the whole room and the joy of our family. I think everyone was speechless after the shock finally wore off. Justin had been awarded a slew of scholarships amounting to a total of $17,000. SEVENTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. When I heard the number, I could do nothing but smile at God's benevolence and grace, and laugh at my own doubt. But God was not done. Did I mention that one $10,000 scholarship is renewable if he maintains a certain GPA? That the CEO of the bank granting that scholarship personally met him and told him that they also had a MacBook Air computer for him and he would have a paid internship with them whenever he was available to work? Wow. What a God we serve. The best part of the whole day was Justin's response when I congratulated him, "I told you. God said He would provide." Even more important than what Justin said was what he displayed over those months - simple trust in what God promised Him. That is the character of a man I want to marry, a woman I want to be. His God, a God of great power and faithfulness, is a God I want to serve - not the weak, uncaring God that my fears describe to me. I still struggle with the need to control. I still occasionally doubt God's plan. However, these past few months and the faith of my brother has reminded me that God takes care of His children and that peace is possible amidst the chaos of this uncontrollable world. Once again, I remember: God is great. God is good. He is omnipotent and omniscient. The perfect Father. Our Savior. So maybe it is time to relinquish my false sense of control and just trust Him and fall into His powerful arms. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?...O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it...But seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well" (Luke 12:22-31, NIV- my emphasis added).