RELINQUISHING CONTROL

“Relinquishing control to the Lord changed much more than my relationships with others. It allowed me to find true joy in serving rather than trying to control people to serve my interests.” – Eric Hassfurther

“Whatever Oprah was talking about was the spiritual influence of our home in my formative years,” said Eric Hassfurther. “I looked at God as some kind of energy in the atmosphere and thought any path led to Him. Finding my identity in sports, school and success, I led a great life relative to other people I knew.

“Early in college, I had a serious girlfriend and didn’t do a lot of things socially. When we broke up, I felt like I had missed out on the typical college experience, so I started drinking and partying to make up for lost time. A friend invited me to a local church in Austin, and while my life was still going crazy, I heard more about the Good News of Jesus Christ. I saw something different and more authentic in the Christians I met there. There was something real about them – something I found intriguing.

“While I continued attending church, all the inappropriate relationships and lies started coming back to bite me. One Sunday, the pastor asked us to spend some time silently with the Lord and take a 30,000-foot view of our lives. I realized for the first time that I wasn’t a very nice guy. In fact, I was a selfish jerk.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about the joy and authentic care that I saw in my friends who said they followed Jesus. There in that moment, I felt like God planted this question in my mind… ‘Do I really think that I’m the smartest person in this room, or might they know something that I don’t?’ By God’s grace, I could see I was missing something.

“I had heard the truth about God’s grace but never trusted in it or connected the head knowledge to my heart. So right then while seated silently in church I said, ‘Jesus, I’ve made a mess of my life. I know you died for my sins and that living for you is the way to the abundant life. So I’m going to trust and follow you and let you hold up your end of the bargain.’

“It felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders. I began experiencing contentment like I never had before. The drinking and sexual sins became less attractive to me. I was far from perfect, but I found true joy when I chose to follow Jesus instead of my selfish desires. When I moved to Dallas, I got involved at Watermark and in a community group. That’s when I got even more serious about my faith and began looking at my struggles with codependency, selfishness and porn.

“I started going to Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry, re:generation. That was the first time I’d ever been both fully known and fully loved. I stopped portraying a self-protecting image to everyone. I learned what it meant to abide with Christ, live authentically, be honest with others and experience the abundant life – ‘His end of the bargain,’ if you will.

“However, relationships remained an idol to me, and God used a broken engagement to break me from my pattern of control. I tried to make that relationship work, but after a lot of heartache, I just couldn’t force it. That’s when I realized that I would never be able to create anything that brought joy and happiness apart from the Lord’s will. (Psalm 127:1) That’s when I began relinquishing control to God.

“Relinquishing control to the Lord changed much more than my relationships with others. It allowed me to find true joy in serving rather than trying to control people to serve my interests. I experienced what Jesus meant when He said, ‘whoever loses their life for me will find it.’

“Not long after that, I got the courage to ask my dad, who I work with every day, to read the book of John with me. For 57 years, my father lived without knowing the Lord. Digging through the New Testament together made the deity of Christ come to life to me all the more. After many debates about God’s Word, my dad became a Christian. I always knew the Lord was big, but seeing Him change my dad’s heart was nothing short of a miracle before my eyes.

“Community continues to play a big role in my life. I have a group of close friends who know the broken parts of me and guide me through those struggles. By God’s grace, those guys help me process big decisions I have to make. There’s wisdom in the counsel of many, even in the small stuff. I can’t imagine now living this life without community.

“Even now I’m surprised by the wisdom in God’s Word. The Lord is so much more than energy in the atmosphere. He is a loving, real God who provides practical steps on how to live. He’s not ripping me off. He’s providing me with His promise of an abundant life – again, ‘His end of the bargain.’

“Because His Spirit is working in me, I have the opportunity to live out Ephesians 2:10 and use the gifts God gave me. Whether I’m serving at The Porch or having a spiritual conversation with someone on an airplane, I love getting to point others toward the truth of the Bible and its infinite wisdom. THAT is when I truly feel most alive.”

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

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