The illusion of control ∙
For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much. – Job 38:4
2 I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” It is I – and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, “Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.”
5 I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.
The “illusion of control” is the tendency for human beings to believe they can control or at least influence outcomes that they demonstrably have no influence over. Consider the lottery. People think that if they choose the numbers rather than accepting randomly assigned ones, they have better control over the outcome.
The “illusion of control” effect was named by psychologist Ellen Langer and has been replicated in many different contexts (1975). In a series of experiments, Langer demonstrated that people were more likely to behave as if they could exercise control in events involving personal skills and experience.
Time and time again, research and experimentation have demonstrated that people believe they can somehow control events in their lives when such control is impossible.
The question needs to be asked why? Why do well-intentioned, rational people delude themselves regularly?
Could it be about security? Is personal peace and safety at the root of the illusion of control? So often, for some folks, things need to be narrowly defined according to their comfort zone and tightly controlled. Letting go is just not in their vocabulary. Panic ensues when circumstances change.
Flexibility, calmness, and conscious acceptance of the Father’s will and choices are a far better option. Once you’ve determined, “Hey, I really don’t have control over this at all,” you can begin practicing flexibility and conserve your energy for those matters you can influence (Sandra Sanger).
Recognition of the Father’s knowledge, love, and sovereignty allows us to come to terms with the issue of control, really let go, and trust Him in deliberate and conscious submission. And we can make the same decision repeatedly for the same reason and rest in the secure knowledge of our Father’s heart and mind.
Matthew 11:23 For if the miracles I did for you [Capernaum] had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today.
Sodom was the epitome of a “sin city.” The Lord Jesus Christ said, even Sodom would have repented if it had witnessed His miracles. But the opportunity was never offered.
Ultimately the Father, the Sovereign Lord, is in control. He has made the best of all possible choices regarding our current world and circumstances. The Father knows all and decides all that happens. He knows all the permutations of what might have happened and chose not to happen. This can be mind-blowing, but it is, in fact, a fact.
REFLECT & PRAY
Who is in control? Lord God omnipotent reigns!
Father I know I have limited understanding and seemingly endless questions. Help me to come to terms with Your eternal mind and control of all things and be at peace.
When we are in the midst of difficulties or hardship and our world seems to be collapsing, and our hopes and expectations are dashed, when we are disappointed and sad, when we are betrayed, let down, or abandoned, the Father is still in control.
The fact we are given the ability to make free moral choices provides us with control over a smidgen of what happens in our lives. This contributes to the illusion of control. Each morning we make conscious decisions about what clothes we wear. None of us doubt that. But at the same time, somehow, in the eternal and infinite mind of the Father, He has made the same choices before the foundation of the world.
We have the right and are encouraged to question the Father and ask tough questions. We can do this out of curiosity and wonder, but not out of disillusionment, pride, or arrogance. The Father often answers our queries with probing challenges of His own. This is precisely what transpired between Job and the Father.
Job 38:4 Where were you [Job] when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me if you have understanding.
The Father rules in the affairs of men. Napoleon lost his final battle at Waterloo and lost his empire. Years later, in exile on the island of St. Helena, chastened and humbled, Napoleon is reported to have quoted the words of Thomas a Kempis: “Man proposes; God disposes.”
This is the lesson with which history confronts us all. The Father is able to work His sovereign will – despite man. It is like holding onto a water balloon. The more tightly you grasp it, the more likely it is to burst.
The Father is sovereign! He is the King of the universe. His rule and authority are all-encompassing. The Father has unlimited power. He has sovereign control over the affairs of nature, man, and history. He has created all things. He has created the earth and all of its environs. He has created all of the life forms which occupy them.
He is the creator God and, as such, rules over all of His creation. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Revelation 19:16 Hallelujah for the Lord God omnipotent reigns.
God is sovereign, and He is in complete control. Sometimes He delegates leadership responsibility and its consequent control to others. But He can take it back at any time. Human control is delegated control. Human control is transitory and illusionary.
If we relinquish chasing after the “illusion of control,” we can finally learn to rest in confidence in His enlightened, sovereign control. Indeed, the Father seeks our best and has our back.
Two young girls were talking, and one said she had ten pennies. The other girl looked at her hand and only saw five. She said, “You only have five pennies.”
The first girl replied, “I have five, and my father told me he would give me five more tonight. So I have ten.”
She understood that her father’s promise was as good as done (Green).
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
© Dr. H 2022