I haven’t written in a while, but I’ve been mulling this one over for some time.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “God is in control.” When I hear it, I cringe. Here’s what I believe: God does orchestrate events, but he never violates man’s will. He created us with the awesome and terrible ability to make up our own minds, to choose the way that seems best to us. We all know how well that turned for the first couple. God’s will was for Adam and Eve to live in perfect obedience and intimacy with him. But they didn’t. And he let them.
He’s in control of the universe… but he values my (mostly foolish) decisions by not overriding them, and holds me responsible to live with the natural consequences of my choices.
I envision him like an orchestra conductor, directing each musician to fulfill his or her part. But it’s up to each person holding their instrument to play the proper note at the proper time. The conductor can’t make anyone play.
I hated the popular Christian song a few years ago called “Jesus take the wheel.” Sorry, but Jesus won’t run your life for you while you nap in the back seat. He doesn’t work that way. He wants servants for his father’s house who can be entrusted with the estate. He wants to give you a portion of his wealth so you can invest and return more. He wants active participants in the kingdom work, not shrugged shoulders and the defeated call for Jesus to take over.
I struggle with this concept of control in the common everyday decisions I make. For example, it is up to me to decide how much to give to charity. God does not automatically debit my bank account. It’s my responsibility as his servant to find out what my master wishes, then do my best to carry that out.
I’m not saying that God doesn’t work in and through us. He doesn’t control me, but he works in and through me when I obey him, when I let him, when I bow my will to his. Unfortunately this doesn’t just happen. It takes active decision-making on my part. I must choose moment by moment to listen to him, to trust him, to physically do what I hear him saying.
On the other hand, I’m not saying that my will supercedes God’s. He will work his plan for the universe out whether I play along or not. I cannot stop God from his grand work. But I sure can stop his work in me.
Even so, and thank God, he can redeem my mistakes. He turns my failures around. He conducts the grand orchestra in such a way to recover from my errors. He works all things together for the good of those who love him, and are called according to his purpose.