Are you a control freak? Maybe you know one. Control freaks are people who can't rest until everything in their world lines up with their will. Sometimes they admit that God is in control of the really big things -- the weather, the identity of their birth parents, natural disasters -- but they'd rather take on responsibility for everything else.

Control freaks (idolaters in biblical terms) are on a collision course with reality. A basic starting point in worshiping God is acknowledging, "There is a God, and I am not Him." God is the one Who rules ultimately, Who governs sovereignly, and Who answers to no one. As Paul writes in Romans 11:34-36, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." Or, in the words of Twila Paris, "God is in control."

The idol of control will directly hinder our worship of God. It's revealed in different ways, and can be seen even in those who don't see themselves as control freaks. When my plans are interrupted or messed up completely, or when my perspective on a situation is ignored, it quickly reveals who I think is in ultimate control.

Some of us face issues much more serious than these. Perhaps it's an illness for which doctors can find no cure. Maybe you're attempting to make sense of an unexpected death. Someone desiring control might withdraw in discouragement, or internally shake a fist at God in anger, insisting that He explain what's going on. Control freaks find it difficult to submit to God's always wise, loving, and all-knowing plans. But who knows better, God or me? The answer is painfully obvious, even as our hearts work overtime to convince us otherwise. This is not to minimize the place of appropriate grief. But grieving is worlds apart from implying that we would make wiser choices if only we were in control.

A few years ago a friend shared with me how God became bigger to her during a family crisis. Her 12-year-old daughter had developed a life-threatening infection after an otherwise routine surgical procedure. As the situation grew worse, the mothers fears deepened. She had no control over her daughter's life, and she knew it. Her pastor's wife suggested she leave the hospital and spend time worshiping God at home. For 45 minutes she allowed the truths she was singing to override her craving to be in control of her life. The result? I'll let you read her own words. "I returned to the hospital at about 9 o'clock, totally at peace, and even cheerful. I was sure that whatever the outcome, no power on earth or above could make Him forego His purpose, nor sever my soul from His love." In other words, she refused to serve her desire to control her life, and joyfully submitted to God's sovereign hand. In God's mercy, her daughter was healed, and came home a few days later. More importantly, the mother refused to serve the false idol of being in control, and chose to worship the Almighty One instead.

May the same be true of us.

For His Glory,
Bob