Now that I think about it, there’s a very real possibility that I love to be in control. Several years ago, I played a computer game called The Sims. If you’ve never heard of it, basically, with just a mouse and a keyboard, you’re able to quite literally play God and control the lives of a whole neighborhood of simulated people. You choose their jobs, their hobbies, their meal schedules, what they do and when they do it. It was micromanaging at its finest.
But there was a problem. Every so often, if I wasn’t paying close enough attention, one of my “sims” would come down with an annoying case of free will and do something I didn’t authorize. The nerve! I’d glance over, only to discover them eating unhealthy potato chips, watching loud movies at midnight, or accidentally setting the kitchen on fire. Needless to say, they would find a way to ruin my perfect plans pretty quickly.
Yeah, I eventually had to stop playing that game. But, as a card-carrying control freak, I can have a similar perspective on life. Way too often we think that if we could just find a way to control every aspect of life, every circumstance, every outcome, every person’s reaction, then maybe we could find peace. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Yet we’ll try our best to manage it all — but just like with The Sims, it never works out that well.
A familiar passage in Proverbs provides some simple but life-altering advice:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
— Proverbs 3:5–6
The problem is we’re leaners. We like to lean — and lean heavily — on our own ability to try to figure everything out. I’m a strategist. I like to try to come up with the best solution for any given problem, and sometimes I’m even generous enough to let God in on my best-laid plans. (Cue the laughter from above.) Yes, ironically, it’s a pretty dumb strategy. The Bible reminds us that God is the director. One version says it like this: “He will direct your steps.”
Want to know some amazing news? You’re not God. That really is amazing news, because we couldn’t handle that job for even one millisecond. Jesus said it like this:
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
— Matthew 11:27–30
Jesus makes it clear who’s in charge, and it’s not us. And yet, the outcome is beautiful. If we put our faith in him, we find rest. That’s the beauty of the Gospel: when we’re willing to give up control, then we can truly start to live. Peace is not found in control. It’s found in surrendering it.