The Myth of Control: Part 1

The Myth of Control: Part 1

I’m a planner by nature. My first grade teacher instilled in me the value of details and being attentive to them, and I’ve internalized that to the point of obsession at my points in life. And if I’m being honest, I consider myself a rather good planner–a trait that’s served me well both professionally and personally. But it’s also gotten me into a fair amount of trouble when particular plans don’t materialize, or when God directs me (and others) in different directions.

So I was both curious and convicted as I listened to Ben’s latest sermon on “the myth of tomorrow.” So often, plans can be a good and beneficial thing. But for many of us, we end up “pushing God out of our planning process.” I know I have.

Ben made the point in the sermon that “so much of our planning is pride.” I can say this is true in my case, but only in part. A lot of my planning is a lack of trust and a desire for control. I don’t trust God’s plans. I don’t trust what they will be. I don’t trust his ability to plan as well as I can. (Oh the arrogance!)

Several years ago, a mentor pointed me to a verse that has helped me loosen my grip on making the perfect plans: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NIV). She acknowledged my natural gift and inclination to planning things well, from parties to corporate events to career trajectories. But she graciously advised me to keep a loose grip on my plans, to hold them with open hands, and to be willing to follow God’s leading and allow him to direct my steps. This is easier said than done.

As I sat down a few weeks ago to make some goals and resolutions for 2015, I looked back on 2014 and saw many instances where God redirected the plans I had made. And this redirection was seldom easy or enjoyable. Was it wrong for me to set goals for the year? I don’t think so. But I had to come to terms with letting go of those goals and aspirations because God clearly had other things in mind. I had to keep unclinching my fists around the plans I had in order to see the plans He had, instead.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that holding loosely to my plans will likely be a constant struggle. But I appreciate reminders like Ben’s message to balance our planning with prayer and seeking God’s direction. “You only have one life to live, and you’re not in control of it,” as Ben helpfully reminds us. Thankfully, the One who is in control of it has far better plans than I do.

Editor’s note: Make sure to read “Part 2”, posted by Emily, for her take on this topic.