The Illusion of Control ~ Holding It All Together

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:17-18

We want what’s best for others and for ourselves. And many times we think we know best. We know who those single friends and family members of ours desiring to be married should marry; so we dive in head first trying to arrange a relationship we’re hoping blossoms into marriage. We desperately want to control our lives, so we lay awake at night worrying about finances and our futures and our children and family members who seem to be circling the drain of destruction–about to go down. We’re awake; we’re the ones losing sleep, not them. We want our churches to flourish, so we are awake at 4 a.m. trying to control and solve problems human beings can’t. Only, we don’t know it yet. Out of good intentions, we seek to right the wrong in the world, the wrong in our neighborhoods, in corrupt systems, and others. We have the answers.

There is nothing wrong with doing all the good we can to all the people we can for as long as we can. Wasn’t it Wesley who said something along those lines? But can we discern when we’ve crossed the line, when it has turned from bearing each other’s burdens to playing God? It all starts off with good intentions. But then we start functioning under the illusion that we can control others if we just reason well enough, if we are just persuasive enough, if we exert enough effort. We confuse ourselves with the Holy Spirit.

As the 90’s lingo goes, we need to learn how to step off. We have to act, yes, but really we have to surrender control and our desire to hold it all together. We have to let go of the illusion of being in control. There is only so much we can do and say. We have to practice trusting God instead of just saying we trust him. Our controlling acts and attempts at holding-it-all-together actually reveal our lack of trust. We all want to be gods. We all want to assert our wills. And often, we prefer our will to the divine will.

Recognition is the first step. Recognizing what we are doing. And then we confess it to God and to others if need be. When we do, we hear God whisper that it is all right, that in him all things hold together. That includes our lives, and health, and mental health. Some may say, “Well my health is gone, my mental health is gone, and the innocents suffer abuse and terror.” Yes. This is hard. But in the end, the Bible calls us to appropriate the hope that in Christ all things hold together. He will make all things right, hold it all together, where human effort fails or where human effort is insufficient.

We don’t know what it all will look like, this holding all things together of Jesus, this control of God’s. But he does ask us to be still, to know that he is God and to let him be God. We can only do so much. Do we know where our efforts need to stop and where God takes up the slack? Really it is his grace, it is him that enables us to do anything at all. Let us remember that we serve a good and righteous and just God. A God full of kindness and compassion and abounding in love.  Let us remember that when we are weakest he is strong. Let us not play God even when tempted.

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