Last week at church there was quite a reaction when I read out a list of characteristics of people who we might unkindly describe as 'control freaks'. There were a few people sitting there saying, "Yes, that’s me". What was more evident was the large number of people prodding the person next to them, suggesting that the list of characteristics sounded very familiar. Strangely the temptation to control can affect all sorts of people at different times in their lives. Tragically this sort of obsession can become very hard to live with.
Of course if we really stop to think hard, we will see that no matter how seriously we try to control, we are never going to succeed.
Firstly we forget that this world we are living in is actually spinning at a speed of about 1500 kms per hour, while traveling through space at a little over 100,000 kms per hour. We convince ourselves that we are standing still but nothing could be further from the truth. We also forget that our five and a half odd litres of blood flows about 19,000 kms throughout our body every day! Our heart pumps that blood around its long journey about 35 million times a year, again without the slightest bit of control from us. We cast off about 4 kgs of unwanted skin a year and behold, our bodies replace it again without any thought or control from our minds. We all enjoy eating and we think we at least control that, but once in the mouth we again become spectators of our amazing bodies. Our saliva and teeth begin the process that includes a journey of about 7 or so metres through our oesophagus, stomach and intestines. Along the way, again without a thought, our body extracts the nutrients we need to live, while over a period of two or three days slowly getting rid of the excess (lets not go into the detail). All the while our kidneys and liver and a few other things merrily go about their work. Meanwhile an incredible defence system within us made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs, defends our bodies against germs and micro organisms every day. This immune system again operates independently of our command.
If all that is not amazing enough, we are reminded that the very best things that happen to us in life are also beyond our control. Most of us work in jobs that other people decided we could have. If we are blessed with a marriage partner, we are reminded that we only had one vote when two were required to start and sustain a marriage. Even our children are surprising blessings of a reproductive system that we enjoy, but hardly control.
In fact, control is an illusion.
Life was not meant to be controlled, but lived. Trusting God may require faith, but it’s wiser than the illusion that we control our own destiny.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6