The Control Panel of Life

September 14, 2020

by Ken Jones

“Control” is a word we use all the time, have you noticed? In science, every researcher insists on the careful documentation of experiments and the importance of control groups for accuracy in successful drug development. Television studios all have some control room, where people sit staring at monitors to determine which camera angle best captures the story that is unfolding. Every large airport in the world has a control tower, rising several stories above the surrounding runways. Men and women sit in those high control towers looking out on the horizon, while simultaneously watching monitors that display the exact location of airplanes wanting to land or waiting for permission to take off. The pilots are certainly flying the planes, but the controllers are in…control.

When we say we’re in control of something, we mean we have accepted the responsibility for directing some course of action. We’re responsible for looking after or making decisions about something. In that regard, healthcare professionals fiercely protect the idea that they should control the course of treatment for their patients, and not some outside insurance agent or administrator. To be in control is to be in charge, to know what to do, to act in a way that will produce an intended result. By both nature and training, when it comes to the medical care and treatment of their patients, doctors want to be in control.

We’re all responsible for establishing some degree of control over our own lives, as well. The New Testament writers clearly saw the importance of individual responsibility with regard to our controlling of self. In Galatians 5, Paul lists self-control as one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit. And in 2 Timothy 3, he describes in vivid detail the conditions that will exist in the last days, and he says that men will be “without self-control.” In Paul’s letter to Titus, he lists possessing self-control as one of the qualifiers in assessing candidates for overseer of God’s people in the church. And Peter instructs his readers in 2 Peter 1, “…applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control…” (NASB). Self-control is an important quality to possess, for a certainty.

However, in a real sense, the wise person understands that it is foolish to assume (at least in a global sense) that human beings are ever truly in control. To put it simply: “Being in control is out of our control.” It is certainly true that we may act as if we are in control; in fact, we may even assume we are in control. But when confronted with the way things “really are?” We who name the Name of Jesus as our Lord understand that He, the Sovereign who reigns on high, is in control. The psalmist declared it: “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Psalm 135:6, NASB). And in Psalm 115:3 he writes, “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (NASB).

One of the coaching questions I have often asked of Christian healthcare professionals over the years has been, “Who sits at the control panel of your life?” The most often given response? “Well, I know what the answer should be. The answer should be God.” What often ensues after such an answer is dialogue about how life would be different if He was at the helm of the ship or identifying who or what might be exerting control in life. Two realities usually form in the minds of Christian healthcare professionals who are seriously examining that “control panel” question:

  1. The fact that God is ultimately in control does not absolve me of responsibility for my own actions and attitudes. If I sense control being exerted from any outside force besides His gentile and guiding hand, I am responsible for addressing the changes that need to be affected, seeking the Controller of my life. As Paul rightly declared on Mars Hill that day, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a, ESV).
  2. It is impossible to have a right view of control without an accompanying view of trust. There is only room at the control panel of my life for one. And if my trust is weak, I am resistant and reticent to follow. If I do not trust the pilot of a plane I am boarding, don’t count on me climbing onboard. Conversely, if I trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding (or control) but in all my ways acknowledge Him (and His rightful place of control), He will do what pleases Him, which is to guide my every step and mark my every path.

There is no better way to live life than to live it…trusting the One in control.

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