How to Trust God with the Controls of Your Life

Dena Johnson Martin

Crosswalk Contributing Writer
Published Jun 27, 2024
How to Trust God with the Controls of Your Life

It is so easy in this life to try to take the controls, to live our lives without listening to the gentle voice of our Father. Sometimes, we crash and burn. But in God’s grace, we get a chance to try again.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28-29

I have heard this verse my entire life, but I had a defining moment of understanding this week.

For years, I’ve heard the illustration of two oxen yoked together, one larger and experienced and the other smaller and just learning. The experienced ox carries the yoke and does the work. The smaller, inexperienced ox simply walks along and learns as the yoke keeps the two oxen together. 

I can see it in my mind. I can, in theory, understand the illustration. Sometimes, though, the farming illustrations don’t carry the same weight in our non-agricultural 21st-century minds that they did in Jesus’ day.

A Modern Illustration

As I was driving to work a couple of days ago, God gave me a moment of clarity, one that almost immediately brought this verse to mind. You see, my heart was weary and burdened as I contemplated the anxiety of my daughter leaving the country on a mission trip. This summer-long trip to the other side of the globe marks the first time I have ever been so far from one of my children that I can’t run to them if they need me. 

And that’s when God reminded me of our spur-of-the-moment spring break trip.

My daughter had asked if we could take a short road trip during her spring break from college, so we drove down to see my oldest son in Texas. He is a pilot, currently working as a flight instructor as he builds his hours toward his goal of becoming an airline pilot. We have intended to fly with him multiple times, but it seems every visit is affected by poor weather. This trip, however, the weather was perfect, and Blake was able to take us up to his happy place.

As we climbed into the plane, my son had his little sister take the pilot’s seat. He began to explain how to take off, giving her the controls. 

You have to remember that my daughter has only flown commercially a few times. Her experience with planes is minimal, and, because of a medical diagnosis, she would never be granted a pilot’s license. Yet, here we sat. She was in the pilot’s seat while my son, the experienced pilot, was sitting at her right hand (Isaiah 41:13). 

My son spoke over the radio, asking for clearance to take off. He spoke so quickly I could barely understand his words. I certainly couldn’t understand the chatter of the radio or know when the tower was talking to us. But Blake could. He has experience speaking and listening and is completely tuned into his tail number. After receiving clearance, we began to taxi down the runway. My daughter’s hands were on the controls, doing whatever her brother told her to do. She was the pilot, but her brother was right beside her as the pilot in command. 

I won’t tell you that I handled the experience well. In reality, I was in the back seat holding on for dear life! My daughter-- who has no experience flying a plane-- was at the controls as our wheels left the runway and we began to leave the safety of the ground below! 

The reality of the situation, however, was this: even though my inexperienced daughter had the appearance of controlling the plane, my son had his hands on the controls in the right seat. He was calling out instructions, but he was in complete. He has the knowledge and experience necessary to make sure we were safe. He was the pilot in command.

Why Are We Able to Rest?

Isn’t that the picture Jesus was trying to paint for us? We may be sitting in the pilot’s seat of our lives, but He is at our right hand. He has the controls. He is whispering His directions to us, telling us what to do and when to do it. He is communicating with the tower (the Father), aware of the traffic and other obstacles we might encounter. Our job is to be completely tuned into His voice and follow His instructions.

We can rest knowing He sees everything going on around us. 

We can rest knowing He is in constant communication with the Father.

We can rest knowing He is watching the traffic and navigating any obstacles we might encounter.

We can rest knowing He has checked the weather radar and knows the conditions that would negatively affect us.

We can rest knowing He has the knowledge and experience to safely take us into the air and let us simply enjoy the view.

We can rest knowing He has complete control of the life we are living. 

We can rest knowing He is at our right hand.

We can rest knowing He is the pilot in command. 

Who Is at the Controls of Your Life?

It is so easy in this life to try to take the controls, to live our lives without listening to the gentle voice of our Father. We try to get the plane off the ground on our own. Sometimes, we crash and burn. But in God’s grace, we get a chance to try again. 

The question is simple: Do we give God the controls and let Him be our pilot in command? Or do we try to take over the controls and live our lives as if we are the only one in the plane?

I choose to let God be my pilot in command. 

Lord Jesus, I need you. I need to hear your voice telling me how to live this life. I need to remember that you have the controls and nothing can touch me that you don’t allow. I need to know that you are constantly monitoring everything happening around me, that you have a view I simply can’t understand. Teach me to rest as I remember that you are the pilot in command as I live this life. In your precious name, I pray, Amen.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/MatusDuda

Dena Johnson Martin is a former single mom of three who learned the power of walking intimately with God when her marriage fell apart. Her greatest desire is to use her darkest days to encourage others to find the joy of a life restored by Jesus Christ. She earned her Master's in Life Coaching and is available to assist others with rebuilding their lives after the storms of adultery and divorce. In her spare time, Dena works as a Registered Nurse and is a regular contributor at If you would like to contact Dena, please feel free to interact with her on her blog, Dena Johnson Ministries or email her at