Please. Stop telling me, “God is in control!” Seems like I hear this everywhere I turn amidst this pandemic. Lately, my whole being recoils at the notion. It’s as if my body is bearing witness to deception. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God’s sovereignty. Regardless, it feels like the phrase, “God is in control!” is false.
It doesn’t sound like the doctrine of sovereignty is really why people say, “God is in control.” I hear that statement when there is spiritual by-passing of very human fear. I hear it when people can’t acknowledge, sit in, or process their emotions. I hear it when someone struggles to hold space for the feelings of others. I hear this statement when Christians want to feel a remnant of control. Unfortunately, it provides false security. It’s a facade. It helps us kid ourselves.
Is There More?
The reality is no one controls anything outside of themselves. We cannot control others. We cannot control our situations. We cannot even control all things inside us. For sure, we cannot control God. Regardless, some of us really want to feel like we have control. Even if we access that feeling by believing God controls. I want to know the truth. Is there more to God? Does He want to control? Is this notion of control what it looks like for us to be with Him and let Him be with us?
Undeniably, there are stories in Scripture which convey God’s ability to control. But, I don’t think this is the overarching message about His personality. I don’t think the Lord is much interested in controlling humans or our situations. If control was His primary motive, He surely wouldn’t have offered redemption. If control was God’s end game I don’t think He would have chosen the pain of love. Control contradicts love. Love required God to relinquish control, over and over again—to sacrifice Himself—it was supremely vulnerable. God is love. Love does not control. Nothing in 1 Corinthians 13 sounds like control.
Response Builds Connection
Furthermore, in the face of what was likely the greatest opportunity to control—the Fall—God, chose NOT to control. He chose to respond. Control isn’t a trait of healthy relationships. Response is. I think God is far more interested in responding, in having relationship—in being WITH us, with me—than in having control. I think God’s sovereignty ultimately serves to protect us more than it exists to protect Him. When I think those thoughts I ask bigger questions. I move from asking whether God is in control to whether I will we let Him be with me in my fear? This is the real spiritual invitation for me.
You and I can succumb to our western spiritual heritage which tells us we are in control. We can talk like it’s more spiritually noble to tell ourselves and each other that “God is in control!” But, what if the actual spiritual nobility lives within our courage to listen to our feelings? What if wholeness exists in the sacred space of being wholly with God? Feelings are NOT contradictory to God. They are tools to know Him better. What if our fear about the things we cannot control is an invitation to BE with God? To find our comfort with Him rather than with His power?
God did not implant within humanity a construct of betrayal by making us emotional beings. If you follow the logic it begins to unravel. After God created the first humans, He called His creation good. It’s impossible to believe He subsequently, wanted mankind to be separated from the feelings He gave them. It doesn’t make sense. However, it is a theology that fits nicely with “God is in control!”
He’s Better Than That
I used to settle for this theology. But now, I want more! I want the truth. I’d rather believe in the God I read about in Scripture, the One I pray to who is more interested in being with me, in delighting in my willingness to listen to the intrinsic guides He gave me, and in answering His invitation to be with me and I with Him. God is not in control. He’s better than that!