The Illusion of Control

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Proverbs 27:1

I have heard many times that if you want to make God laugh, then tell Him your plans. We don’t know what will happen from one day to the next, although it should not keep us from being prudent in our planning for tomorrow. Planning, especially financial planning, is not something I have been really good at, and one always wishes they would have saved money a lot earlier in life. I was not keen on finances when I was younger, and was certainly more focused on the spending than the saving. We like to be in control of our lives, and we like to think we are at the helm of the ship of life. There are some who like to plan out every day to the nth degree and others who live more freely and simply play it by ear. I am not the planner of the family, and Rebekah is typically the one who takes care of the details for me. I recently took a road trip with my son to bring him home from college, and I only had to find the places we would be stopping for the night as she had them all planned out for us. I like this as I do not have to give it much thought, even though the very thought of this may drive some mad.

I remember my dad driving me to Phoenix from Chicago in the summer of 1998. I was smitten by a young woman who would later become my wife, and I used the cover story of coming to Arizona State University to get me closer to her. I wanted Rebekah to take the cross country drive with me, but my dad knew better as he knew if something went wrong I would need his help. As a young adult, you never think of those things, but your parents often do. My dad drove most of the way, but he let me take the wheel for the last leg of the trip. It was a trip I will never forget as it was our last road trip together before I would eventually get married. We got to spend some quality time with each other in those two days, and I am not sure how comfortable he felt with me driving as he sat in the passenger seat. It was rare that we were in the car together where he was not driving and in control of the vehicle. He would give me instructions from time to time as I drove, but for the most part he let me drive the truck the final leg to Arizona.

Fast forward 25 years: I picked up Nate from school and we left Pensacola, Florida headed west to Arizona. We decided to make a trip out of it and took in a baseball game in Houston. I am not much for road trips per se, but I saw it as a great opportunity to spend some time with my son whom I had not seen in several months as he had been away at school. He started off the trip in the driver’s seat, and I found myself in the passenger seat wincing, closing my eyes and pressing on the imaginary brake on the passenger side. I did my best to hold my tongue and not offer any unsolicited advice, although I did offer some subtle hints. I realized we had a long way to go, and I was going to have to trust his driving in order to keep my sanity through the trip. His lane changes were a little scary for me, although he seemed quite comfortable and told me, “the point of the lane change is to get in the other lane as quickly as possible, right?” To which I responded, “well, it is to get into the lane but slow and easy”, and he worked on this as we changed lanes quite often as we headed toward home.

I eased up as we went along, but I started to understand how my dad may have felt seeing me drive. As a dad, it is hard to sit there quietly and trust your son as he takes the wheel. You may think closing your eyes and stepping on the imaginary passenger brake may help to control things, but it really does absolutely nothing. You have to learn to trust the driver even if he is your son and he takes chances you would not take yourself. The same thing is true in our life as we think we are in control, even though God controls all things. We sometimes do not trust or like the path our life may take, but God is sovereign and has a purpose and plan for all things He allows in our life. We may want to press on that imaginary “life” brake on the floor, but we must learn to trust Him and draw close to Him. He is in control and even though life may take turns we would not pick for ourselves, we must lean on the sovereignty of God. Romans 8:28-29 states, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Are you in a place where you thought you would never be? Are you perplexed by what God has allowed in your life? Have you tried to control everything but find that you cannot truly control anything, much like someone trying to be a perfectionist in an imperfect world? Are you still wincing and pressing on that imaginary brake or are you trusting in Him? We are foolish to think we are in control and must come to realize it is merely an illusion. Will you trust in Him today? Will you relinquish your “control”? May we find true rest in Him, and may we enjoy our time with Him as we draw close until we see Him face to face at the end of our journey home.

Stay in the Fight!

Leave a Comment