“To be controlled . . . ”

“To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace.”

(Romans 8:6)

This is a photo I took a few years ago of a rock formation in one of my favorite places in the United States, Arches National Park.  This particular formation is called, “The Three Gossips,”  but I contend that it looks more like, “The Three Kings.”  (I have a feeling the issues around separation of church and state kept them from calling it what I think it really resembles.)  Anyway, the stunning arches and other formations in the park are formed by rocks that have been worked on by water, wind, and temperature.  Large rocks just standing there are controlled by natural forces, resulting in stunning works of art.  Wow!

Whether we like it or not, all of us are subjected to forces that have a great impact upon our welfare, state of being, and eventual outcome.  I’m convinced that some, if not often times we’re not really aware of what is controlling us and guiding us along our journey.  Some of these forces might be well beyond our ability to alter, but some are not.  It seems to me that the most dangerous forces shaping us are the ones we choose to ignore, but make no mistake about it, those same forces can have a profound on the “shape” of the “formations” we become.

This is the Christian season of Lent, so each week I find myself wondering about the purpose of the season in today’s world. I wonder how the season can have a meaningful purpose instead of simply serving as a time to test our willpower. What if we used Lent as a time to do some serious soul-searching about identifying the forces that most work upon us, and asking ourselves if those are really the forces we want to shape our destiny?  As the Apostle Paul might ask, “Are the forces leading us to some sort of emotional or spiritual depression, despair, and death, or are the forces leading us to life and peace?”

Lent might not be the time when we can make all the changes, but it might be the time to risk identifying the changes that are necessary.  What shapes and forms me?  What controls me?  Am I allowing God’s Spirit to lead me to life and peace so I can invite others in the same direction?  I pray that God will help me ask these questions during Lent and wait to hear God’s loving response.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,


Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at and

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”


~ by revgenelson on March 29, 2017.

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