Life is full of unexpected events. We find ourselves in situations we never could have fathomed. We feel out of control and uncertain. The carrying for a parent at the end of their life is one of those “upside down” experiences of life. All mankind believes we are at the wheel, in-charge of the ship only to discover that we are not. This shift of in control to out of control has a dramatically negative impact on our experience. Losing control can lead to some of the most life-changing experiences people have in their lives.
Christians are uniquely prepared for the cyclical experience of being in and then out of control. Frankly, we simply recognize that control is a fleeting perception at best; we are never in control. At least not fully. On a moral level the need for control is the quick road to self-righteousness and evil because at some level to believe we deserve control leads to the belief that we can take control and impose control on others. That belief and it’s subsequent actions leads to all kinds of power-plays, power-seeking and authoritarian behavior responsible for some of histories greatest atrocities including slavery and mass-genocide.
No, control is not the path for followers of Christ. Christians yield control to God’s will. We acknowledge that despite all of our daily hard work, God is the one who provides our daily food. Despite our degrees and accomplishments it is God who provides raises, promotions and pensions. Despite our attendance at church, it is God who supplies the kind of holiness we need to enter heaven. And though we work all of our lives, to stay alive as long as possible, God gifts us with true, eternal life.
Typing that last paragraph has once again filled me with gratitude.
On some level I have to smile. I see how foolish, even childish it was to believe that pieces of paper (degrees and accolades), an 8 hour work week and going to church was going to get me all the things I believe I’m due. I guess I also see how easily all of this is taken away. It’s an illusion. Control is an illusion. I’m grateful that despite my buy-in to the illusion of control – which I do because I’m human, God gives me, through Jesus, his Spirit and the mechanisms and people of the world, everything I need for today, tomorrow and eternity. I don’t have to control those complex and difficult circumstances of life, because God’s plan transcends them.
One of the “control issues” we all struggle with is the loss of friends and family. All of us struggle with losing those we love most, wanting to control our futures with those people and wishing things had been different.
The Christian heart is tuned to the sadness and the gratitude of loss. During lent its good to reflect on those whom we’ve lost; celebrating the time we shared and confessing the seeds of resentment we harbor at their loss.
This song is performed by a young man who has lost his father.