The Illusion of Control

I had one job that day: just bring home some important papers from work.  Not a very complicated task, yet it was very important.  My wife and I needed to go over them that night. There was one page in particular that I could not lose.  Yet, somehow between leaving the office, the drive home, and the front door, the ONE paper that I could not lose was missing! I had one job.. and I blew it! The paper was gone.

In that moment I had an illusion of control,  I believed that I could control even the smallest details of my life…  And I was wrong. I didn’t have control. Even the bigger things in life,

• My kids behavior – I don’t control that. I understand that we help shape our kids. However, I ultimately can not control my kids decisions.  

• My health – I don’t control that. I understand that we can take steps toward living healthier lives.  However, I can not control whether i get a cold or not.

• My finances- I don’t control that. I understand that you can get rid of debt and live within your means. However, the car breaks down or an appliance stops working and suddenly you’re facing a bill you were not planning on.

I think that in these kind of moments that we think we have control, that anxiety and frustration come to the surface quickly.  Because I think that I have control… When my kids don’t behave how I think they should, I take offense – BECAUSE I think I have control. When I get sick, I start to assume things about God – because I think I have control.  When I get a bill that I’m not sure how I will pay, I start to believe that God has somehow forgotten me.

I wonder if you are like me, struggling to maintain an illusion of control in your lives.  Paul David Tripp said it this way in his devotional NEW MORNING MERCIES, “[…]facing your lack of sovereignty over your own life produces either anxiety or relief.  Anxiety is God-forgetting.” When I think that life is on my shoulders anxiety is produced. When I work to keep things catalogued and organized and things don’t work out, anxiety is produced.  It is exhausting to think that I have to exercise control over people, places and things. And the end result is worry in my life.

But what if there was another way?  Instead of God-forgetting, it was God-remembering. Remembering who really is in control. And even when situations look bleak.  He is in control. Even when the kids behavior is abhorrent, He is in control. Even when the report comes from the doctors office, He is in control.  Even when the finances are all in the RED, HE is in control.  

A story that challenges me in the Bible is the book of Job.  Job is going through a lot. All control is lost in Job’s life.  And God has a conversation with him about just who is in control.  

Read these words and apply them to your lives:

JOB 38

4“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

   Tell me, if you know so much.

5 Who determined its dimensions

   and stretched out the surveying line?

12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear

   and caused the dawn to rise in the east?

13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,

   to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?

16. “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?

   Have you explored their depths?

17 Do you know where the gates of death are located?

   Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?

18 Do you realize the extent of the earth?

   Tell me about it if you know!

19 “Where does light come from,

   and where does darkness go?

20 Can you take each to its home?

   Do you know how to get there?

“Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?

   Who laid out the path for the lightning?

26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land,

   in a desert where no one lives?

27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground

   and make the tender grass spring up?

31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—

   binding the cluster of the Pleiades

   or loosening the cords of Orion?

32 Can you direct the constellations through the seasons

   or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?

33 Do you know the laws of the universe?

   Can you use them to regulate the earth?

34 “Can you shout to the clouds

   and make it rain?

35 Can you make lightning appear

   and cause it to strike as you direct?

36 Who gives intuition to the heart

   and instinct to the mind?

37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds?

   Who can tilt the water jars of heaven

38 when the parched ground is dry

   and the soil has hardened into clods?

Praise God He gives grace to help us to remember who He is and that He is sovereign in all circumstances.  Praise God HE IS IN CONTROL. And we can rest in His careful rule for our life. As Carrie Underwood said so poetically, “JESUS Take the Wheel!”

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