How much control do we really have?

Do we really have much choice or is there a Power, a personal God that is directing our lives and intervening? I had just lit the candle for my evening prayers and went to use the bathroom. I take a chance with this and I am not advocating lighting a candle and then leaving the room. As I type this I realize that it is an unnecessary risk. Light it when I am ready to pray and blow it out when I am done. Anyway, I was thinking, how much is God saving me from disaster. Perhaps, he is saving me a hundred times a day, from falling over, getting run over, running someone else over or running into someone. He could be saving me from candles exploding, food poisioning, a natural disaster like earthquake, flood or tornado. Of course this sounds very ego-centric to say that he stopped an earthquake to make my day. As I get older, I realize more of the dangers that exist and I think how God is protecting me from them. Perhaps, I don’t have as much control as I think I do.

If I believe I have a lot of control, then the responsibility lies upon me. It is my fault if I get the disease, the house burnt down or the next calamity. If this is the case, then I need to make sure I am always choosing the right choices. But guess what? I think I choose the wrong things many more times than the right. Why am I not zapped with the consequences of my bad choices?

For instance, I eat some left over Halloween candy that I did not think I would indulge in. I am not prone to eating high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavor and food dyes and enjoying it. If I were to indulge, why not a high quality chocolate bar? But I did anyway. It is 10 times better than 10 years ago. Why don’t I get immediately sick. As a kid, I could eat the stuff and barely feel it. Today, I eat a little and wonder how anyone could like anything this sweet and tasteless. . . and I kind of get sick. The next day, I felt a sugar hangover. So, do I pay for the consequences yes, . . and no. It appears that God in His mercy has built into our bodies a mechanism for making mistakes with food, poisons, lack of exercise, too much stress. There is a resiliency factor. When we are young, perhaps there is more resiliency because of the foolishness of childhood, or maybe our bodies are just younger.  The point is:

God in His mercy allows for mistakes.

If I don’t learn and keep abusing my body, I may eventually have to pay. So, maybe God is protecting us more than we realize. We give Him so little credit.

There are two types of people in the universe. Sorry, for being so simplistic and here I am a professional counselor who should know better than to pigeon hole people, but here it goes.
Some people hold on too tightly and others don’t hold on tight enough.

The first group are control freaks, worry all the time, plan too much, over analyze, over control everything and feel too responsible for everything.

The others don’t think enough about consequences, make too many mistakes, are impulsive, and irresponsible. The spiritual endeavor of each is to move more towards the middle. The control freaks need to learn to let Go and let God run things. To trust a little. To realize it is all going to work out, even with the mistakes in life. God can use them for His purpose. It helps us realize that we are not God. Only He is perfect.

The others need to hold on more. Pay attention. Get a grip and start being responsible.  To reach out to God in prayer and ask him for wisdom and knowledge to make less mistakes.  For the diligence to get things done and turned in on time.  To have God instill in them a healthy fear of him and the consequences that exist in the universe.

In the serenity prayer where it talks about the “wisdom to know the difference” –I often overlooked this part of the prayer. I really didn’t and still don’t have the wisdom to know the difference pf what is in my control and what is not. What if we rearranged the prayer to give it more meaning.

God give me the wisdom to know what things are beyond my control and I need to accept them. Give me wisdom to know what is in my control and help me to do something about these things.

Knowing the difference between these two things may make all the difference.

Take heaven for example. If there is God and a heaven, and what the Bible says about how to get there is true, are too many of us thinking we will end up there, just because we are sincere in our belief system that we have made up on our own? What if we are not taking enough responsibility, not courageously living out our lives enough to the level of what God expects from us?  What if we are being too lenient with ourselves, lowering God’s standards.  Maybe we are in denial? On the other hand, perhaps we understand what God expects of us and are terrified that it will never happen for us. We are relying too much on ourselves, our sense of control rather than upon His mercy which is beyond our control. The free gift of salvation cannot be earned. It is beyond our control. But, if it were that easy to just accept the gift why don’t we all make it into heaven? Because there are parts of the salvation process we must work for.

Works, you say?

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Phil 2:12)

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23-24)

If we love God we are going to do something.  This something is within our control.  The rest that happens is up to Him and it involves His Grace, which is empowerment from on high, the Holy Spirit.  Without Him we can do nothing.  So it is vital that any actions we take are mixed with the Grace of God.  You will find that this is the combination that helps us not only get sober to be stay sober.  It is by His Grace that we are saved.

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