“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55: 8-11. 

There is a great scene in Kung Fu Panda between Master Oogway and Shifu about the illusion of control. Oogway tells Shifu that the panda will never fulfill his destiny, nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control. Shifu believes there are things we can control using a peach tree as an example: I can control when the fruit will fall, I can control where to plant the seed: that is no illusion. Oogway calmly tells him that no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach. Oogway concludes by saying that you cannot change the nature of a thing.

When we try to control others, we deceive ourselves. We cannot change people’s natures. We can try but more often than not we will fail. But when we let go of the illusion of control, we set ourselves free. Free to allow others to be themselves. Free from the need to control. Free to be out from under the control of others. And above all, free to let God be in control.

Consider the Israelites for a few moments: The Israelites have just been freed from bondage in Egypt and are on route to land God promised. When they worried about their enemies, God parted the sea to give them victory. When they worried about food, God made manna fall at their feet in the desert. When they worried about water, God caused it to flow from a rock. Yet, despite God’s miraculous provisions again and again, the Israelites’ hearts wavered with fears and doubts again and again, never fully resting in the knowledge that God is in control and will provide.

But lest we think badly of the Israelites, we too have experienced proof of God’s steadfast care and his blessings. I have seen it in good times and in bad. But every once in a while we have the urge to take control away from God, not completely, but on something on our radar screen at the moment.  Or we try to control others so we can get what we want. But that is the illusion of control because God is in control. Isaiah 14:24 reminds us of this fact: ”The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.”  And Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

As long as we believe that we are in control of our lives, we will leave God out of the equation. God wants us to trust in Him and that trust is built up as we release control of our situations into His loving hands.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is God driving your life, or is God in the passenger seat?
  2. In what areas of your life do you find it hard to give God control because you want total control?
  3. The only ability God requires is availability. How does this apply to control?
  4. This week, identify one area of your life that God is not in control of—such as school, sports, eating, computer, or relationships. Pray and give God control in those areas of your life. Come up with tangible steps to follow and ways you can give God control.