Relax. You Are Not in Control.

James 4 Control

I once heard a radio interview with a retired elevator repairman. He reported that in 80% of the elevators in New York City, the “close door” button is not hooked up to anything at all. Pushing the button does not make the door close any faster than it would have anyway. Why do they have these buttons in elevator cars? According to this man, the reason is because people like to feel that they are in control.

I can relate to that feeling. I like to feel that I can plan what will happen in my life and then work to bring my plans to fulfillment. The problem, however, is that, though planning and working are both good things, there is no way I can guarantee that I will accomplish my goals. Life is uncertain. Everything can change, from one second to another. Even waking up tomorrow morning is not guaranteed. I like to feel that I am in control, but I am not.

James 4:13-16 says: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (NIV)

James here reminds us that ultimately the one in control of our lives is God. We wake up in the morning because God sustains us through the night (Ps. 3:5). The sun shines in the sky only at God’s command (Job 9:7). The weather next week will be whatever God decrees it to be (Ps. 135:7; 148:8). God knows exactly how much time each of us will have in this world. King David wrote, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:16). God is in control.

Rather than lulling us into a sense of complacency, or filling our hearts with fear, the knowledge that God governs our lives can instill us with a deep sense of peace. This peace is especially meaningful for those who know the love of Christ. Every morning, Christian, you awaken in a world under the complete control of one who loved you enough to give his Son for your salvation. What could you possibly have to fear? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

It is good to make plans and work to achieve them. Such diligent effort brings honor to the Lord. But we should always hold our plans loosely. We should also lay our heads on our pillows and sleep peacefully at night. Our loving Father holds the world in his hands.