20 Jul I’ve Got These Plagues under Control
This love affair with control is one of the major areas in which my faith most convicts and challenges me. It’s a good process, leading me to greater health and wholeness, but I hate it. I have expended a lot of energy through the years resisting the idea that I have so little control over my life. I was sure I could wrestle and wrangle life to my way of thinking and doing things. Wrong! So, so wrong.
Sure, there are many things over which I do have control. I can make choices, good or bad, about my attitudes. I can choose to procrastinate or get the task done already. I can control whether I respond to difficult people with compassion or with anger. I can control whether I get up off the couch and go to the gym or instead, grab a pint of ice cream out of the freezer and eat it in one sitting. I decide whether I will purchase that latte or give the money away to someone who needs it.
So when I say control is an illusion, I don’t mean that we have no personal responsibility for our choices. I mean that life seldom turns out like I think it will. I mean that I have zero control over how another person thinks or feels or what decisions he or she makes. I mean that I can be as fit as a fiddle and the lab report still comes back showing I have cancer. Or, I can be the best driver in the world and still be involved in an accident, totaling a car that I can’t afford to replace.
It hasn’t come easily, but it is actually a great relief to stop trying to control the uncontrollable. And the truth is that it is a full-time job just managing myself. My self-control is often lacking (especially around chocolate!), and if I can’t master myself, why would I think I can handle anybody else?
Pharaoh was big into control, too. His whole attitude towards life was, “my way or the highway.” If he said it, it happened. Whatever he wanted, he got. If he didn’t like you, you were gonzo. He built an entire empire on the belief that he was in control. He wasn’t.
The ten “plagues” were Exhibit Number One that Egypt and Egypt’s people did not belong to Pharaoh. He had done nothing to bring them into being, and he was, therefore, not entitled to do with them as he pleased. God’s purposes for what God had created, including Egypt and Pharaoh, were life, freedom, peace and joy—the same things God wants for all of creation, because these things are in keeping with God’s very character.
The plagues were “learning opportunities” for Pharaoh. They were intended to point him to a reality that was far more powerful, good, and all-encompassing than Pharaoh could even imagine. Sadly, Pharaoh wasn’t interested in learning anything about God or from God. He was completely invested in protecting his illusion of control, in protecting what was “his.” It cost him, and it cost everyone around him.
I don’t want to be like Pharaoh. I want to have an open and soft heart towards God. Instead of digging in my heels, my learning opportunity is to “let go”: let go of my ideas about how everything should work and rather, learn to receive. God’s ways are so much better than mine, if I’ll choose faith over control.
Yours for the Kingdom,
HERE is the link to the entire series on Exodus: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Us.