Is God in Control?

"A real god doesn't care about control. A real god already has control of everything that needs controlling."~~Orson Scott Card

A few thought-provoking threads on RCU lately have heightened my reflection and awareness to my belief system and my way of mostly rambling and not sure where I am going with it at this point. I wind up on the receiving end of flames from time to time for my aversion toward carnival rides. My acumen concerning them is simply this: if you're so bored that you're willing to risk uncertain death or dismemberment for the sake of entertainment, you either fit the profile for a sociopath, or maybe, just need to get a pet.

Ah, but "God is in control" they say. I think for a minute...I know full well God certainly has the ability to be in control. He doesn't seem to take that liberty all the time. If God's Will were always done, then I'd have no reason to pray for it to be done--which I do daily as a part of on Earth as it is in Heaven--it'd just be done all the time and I'd have nothing to pray about or hope for. If God's Will were always done on earth, everyone would be living a lot more spiritually--afterall, the Bible does say, "It's not my will that any should perish, but that all should have eternal life." It's very evident by looking at society that God's Will most certainly isn't always done--if God micro-managed earth, it wouldn't be inadequate nearly as much. It seems more the likely that God is not in control--at least, He doesn't seem to want to be in control of every little detail that happens on this planet. If He were, free will would disappear, and the world would be more like a giant ant farm. So what is God's role? God's in control of the things that matter.

Granted, I can invoke God to act on my behalf through prayer. It seems, though, that those whose lives seem to be a chain of bad events are more likely the type to, rather than pray, throw their arms up and confess that "God is in control" of everything. When God is not petitioned through prayer, however, it's very obvious that God lets much of the world run itself. Rather than try and rationalize the idea of things like terrorist attacks being God's Will, it makes much more sense to understand that we live in a fallen world and the sins of one affect the many--even good people. The excuse is often made that bad things happen to me when I choose not to walk in God's Will. The catch is this: my choosing not to walk in God's Will at some point negate someone else's ability to make that same decision. I could, for example, choose to walk obediently in God's Will daily and so I pray every morning with the wind in my hair on a roller coaster because it clears my mind--but if I decide to ignore the brakes on that roller coaster I'm about to get on, that pretty much negates my own plan to let God be in control of my life unless, of course, I get an instant message telling me not to get on that coaster. Again, the only way I'm going to change the events of the world running itself is if I've been praying and invoking God on my behalf. Doing something stupid and simply trusting that God will protect me is naive in the same way that praying before jumping off a building is naive. Sure, it'd be easy to accept the idea that "it was my time" and that God really wanted me to die in say--that roller coaster accident--but do I really want to believe that God uses carnival rides to stage assassinations of God-fearing Christians? Doesn't the Bible include "Life" and "Life more Abundant" as a part of Christ's purpose? Where does a premature death come into the picture?

And this is the piece missing from most discussions about God. Rather than have my body severed by a ride run amok, God's Will is more the likely for me to use the brain He gave me. If God were in control of everything, then there's no room for wisdom and I know that I'm supposed to have that. God, in His Divine plan, somehow had to account for free will to exist and propagate on Earth and, in order to accomplish such a feat, had to disavow himself of some control in order to truly create this free will. In other words, had God not made a conscious decision to not tinker with the planet all the time and, instead, put into play a set of spiritual principles, the random events of this world would merely be a script I'd be doomed to act out, exactly as it were created. And if this were the case, there would be no need for wisdom--either natural or supernatural--because everything would play out and my dumb decisions would affect only me. Philosophically speaking, God had to blindfold Himself to push me onto the slide--otherwise, I'm just a series of predetermined events playing themselves out and there's no wisdom, no accountability, and no free will--only programming. I know that's not the case, of course, and when God took the blindfold off, He decided to help kick me in the right direction on occasion. What He didn't do was bubble wrap the planet (he left that up to Massachusetts.)

The idea of realizing God isn't occupied with every pair of socks in the bedroom drawer somehow always gets twisted to suggest that God's not watching out for me. Quite the contrary, He certainly has got my back, if I'm living right and asking for Him to intervene in my life. While God doesn't usually get caught up in making sure my tires are inflated to the proper PSI, I can certainly trust that if I ask Him to protect me and to watch over me, He'll be faithful in doing so. It's only when I become too lazy to check the tires for myself that I depend on God to be my butler instead of my savior. The same holds true when I don't take care of the environment I live in and my body.

This is where those other gifts from God come into play--like the gift of a sound mind--allowing me to think and be practical. I have a mind that tells me it's a good idea to look both ways before crossing the street. Even the ones who dance with venomous snakes do this--it would certainly be too ironic for one of them to die from a hit-and-run. God would be disappointed if He didn't get to ask them "Why in the world were you playing with snakes to begin with--don't you know they're dangerous?"

Obviously, God does protect me and is looking out for me. That's why sometimes He wants me to pray, and other times, to simply use my brain. It's not a matter of my practical mind trumping faith; it's a matter of faith without works being dead. My daily walk with God involves Him sending boats. I jump in the boat if I were smart. In one of the not-so-smart days, I end up asking God why He didn't save me from drowning.

Often times, we Christians are so focused on the supernatural that we seem to purposely ignore the natural. I conveniently forget that everything tangible is also from God--that God Himself invented physics and mathematics I consider to be mundane school subjects--or that this superior mind I've got exists because God ordained it to exist. When I take a look at the lost part of society today, I can quickly see just what a gift from God rational thought can be.

If I were to summarize my philosophy on letting God direct my life, I suppose it would go something like this: Seek the kingdom of God. If I get a word directly from God, by all means listen to it. Until that happens, I have a brain--God gave it to me--use that brain to process decisions and pray God protects me from the dumb ones. If I can't function without a prophetic word to take mustard on my hot dog, I'm not any more spiritual than the rest, I've merely lost my individuality; which is the opposite of what the true church looks like.

If I had to guess as to why some Christians fail to grasp this concept, I'd surmise it's probably got something to do with the fear most people have of taking responsibility for their lives. It's much easier to simply attribute everything in our life to God's tinkering than the idea that perhaps some of the trials we live through were unnecessarily brought on ourselves by bad decisions. I am of the breed that recognizes the present life as not only a test, but a gift--there's a life, albeit short, to enjoy while on this planet. It seems like it'd be a throw-away to spend it wondering if God wants me to step outside and do anything with it.

I find that at least some people who rely on God being in control are actually confused about their own purpose on earth. Since they don't know what that is, they go into the mode of doing nothing until they get tasked by God. Quite the contrary, my purpose has already been spelled out--I'm here to love others, to exercise good will, and to walk out my life with God--not as a puppet on strings--but as sentient creature who makes conscious decision to use the gift of life I have to live and not merely become zombie waiting for an instruction set. Until I come to identify with my specific calling in Christ, I should be keeping busy with the instructions I have.

God in Control is a place I want to be--and it certainly sounds like the safest, most ideal place to live life...but my individuality suffers when I go to the extreme and give up my own free will for the expectation that God wants to rule over every fine grain detail in my life. He created me to think--but many Christians seem to believe we have to commit intellectual suicide to remain a Christian. Perhaps the basis for their original faith might warrant some self-inspection? God is in control of the things that matter and He's left the finer details in my life a box for me to open up and discover on my own.

2 encouragements:

jewlsntexas said...

Hey Sarah -
This is a great post -
I have a lot of thoughts - but little time to post them.
I enjoyed it though and just wanted you to know.

Kaylynn's Mommy said...

WoW! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sarah! I really enjoy reading your posts!

True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

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