Lies We Like

by Lauren McAfee September 6, 2023
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 (ESV)

Over the past several years, God has been leading me on a journey to discover one giant misconception that has given way to fear and panic attacks in my life.

Here’s what I’ve come to find: There are lies I have liked to believe as truth. Yet deep down, I know that clinging to a warped sense of reality will only bring me pain in the long run.

One lie I’ve liked to believe is tied up in my own sense of control over my life — because life often feels most bearable when I think I have full control.

When Jesus taught His famous Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7, He closed with this analogy: You can choose to build your house on the rock or on the sand. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

I’m a girl who loves a good beach vacation. I know almost nothing about construction, but when I get the chance to spend a day on the beach playing in the sand with my daughter, it is easy to see why sand makes a poor foundation for a home. Sand is nothing but rock fragments. The grains are easily moved by the waves or even a slight breeze.

When I convince myself that because I am putting forth effort, God is going to reward me with all my dreams coming true, I am choosing to build my life on sand. But when I build my life on Jesus, my life has a firm foundation.

This teaching is about much more than my temptation to build my life on a false understanding of God; it identifies a false gospel I want to believe, one where I work to secure my own salvation and put God in my debt. The truth is that if I truly bring nothing to my relationship with God, then there is no limit to what He can require of me. I have no leverage over God. Rather, I must surrender wholly to Him. And in doing so, I find the peace I once sought in my own efforts to control my life.

Pastor Timothy Keller’s teaching on this passage warns against my religious attempts:

“The Sermon on the Mount is not a ladder. It’s not a way to climb up to God by doing certain things. It says there are two ways. One way is to say, ‘Out of my goodness I will seek to get God and other people to give me what I want in my inner emptiness; that is, a feeling of approval or worth.’ Or you can say, ‘I’m going to build my whole life and my approach to God on what Jesus has done for me.’ Be your own savior or let Him be your savior.”

The uncomfortable reckoning in my own life is a constant realization that I am not as in control of things as I would like to believe. My efforts to be in control are an effort to replace reliance on God. I don’t have control over whether or not I have children, whether or not my body faces infertility, or how people respond to me on social media. I also do not have control over when God’s presence feels near.

But I can control whether or not I put myself in a place to be near God. I can control whether or not I choose to be involved in my community at my local church. I can control whether or not I prioritize Bible study, reflection and prayer.

When life is challenging, I am often tempted to doubt who God is. I constantly need to remind myself of the character of God and recall that He always does the best thing. Romans 8:28 guarantees it. I don’t always feel like having faith, but as Charles Spurgeon says, “God is too good to be unkind, and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”

May we trust His heart as our firm foundation today and every day.

Heavenly Father, help me to trust in Your plan for me. Holy Spirit, provide me comfort in the midst of affliction, and provide intimacy in the journey of suffering. I surrender myself to You because You alone are in complete control of my life. Please fill my heart with Your peace that passes understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Join Lauren McAfee, Jennie Allen, Elizabeth Woodson and Davy Flowers at an exclusive, one-of-a-kind conference experience at Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., this October! More information at

Lauren and Michael McAfee wrote a new book sharing their journey with infertility, adoption, childhood cancer and more. Beyond Our Control releases this fall and will help you turn anxiety into peace, as you learn to trust the God who is in control of all things.


Follow Lauren McAfee on Instagram or at her website. And find out more about the Lumina women’s conference on Instagram or at the conference website!


Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

What practical step can you take to help you identify a misconception about God that you cling to out of comfort or fear? Who is someone you trust who could help you with this process? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

© 2023 by Lauren McAfee. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Lumina for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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