Links Daily Devotional

The Illusion of Control

“Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” (Lamentations 3:37, NIV)

At U.S. Open qualifying last year, I was on pace to qualify when I came to the seventeenth hole. I took a triple bogey and ended up missing qualifying by two shots. When things like this happen, I take comfort in that God is encouraging me by bringing me very close, but saying “not yet.”

At my next tournament, a couple of weeks after that missed qualifier, I had one hole to play on Sunday morning before the cut was made. I was sitting at the cut line. A bogey and I was packing my bags. Par or better would surely make it. How do you play this hole knowing you have triple-bogeyed just weeks earlier and missed qualifying? I prepared myself, knowing that God was in control and that I could only finish the race the best I could. So I went through the same routines that I had previously. Nothing had changed in my swing, or my equipment, or my mindset. The adrenaline and the fear showed up just the same. But this time, my approach shot ended up two feet from the hole and I had a birdie.

How did I do it? I didn’t.

Here is what we read in Isaiah 26:12: “Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”

This blessing happened because God willed it to happen. In fact, “willing the ball into the hole” is one of the things I have come to laugh at—don’t we always try to hole out? But we all really want to think that we are in control. It would be scary to think we can’t control our lives and that the “universe” or “others” or “randomness” controls it. But when we have a good God taking care of us, we can rest in His loving-kindness (Romans 8:28, Jeremiah 29:11).

If we truly had control of our lives, wouldn’t we win every golf tournament? Wouldn’t we hit every shot perfectly? Wouldn’t we make every sale? Wouldn’t we ace every test? The fact is we cannot say we want something and always get it. Yet those times when we get what we want give us the illusion of control. Then we think we can repeat it…

How many times have you heard golfers say: “I really trusted in my routine today, this is why I think I won…” Well, every day professionals play, they really try to repeat a sound routine! The illusion is that they did something special that day, and therefore controlled the result. But it is God who accomplishes His works through us (Romans 15:18). When we think we came up with some “special blend,” we get frustrated trying to repeat the same process to no avail… That is why the dip after experiencing success can be so hard to deal with; we go from a sense of control to a sense of confusion. Often, we even start questioning God’s purpose and presence in our lives.

God has been teaching me that I can’t control the results, but that I can only answer His call and do my duty in His strength. All things—even things we perceive as bad—will ultimately turn out for God’s glory and for our good. We have to remember that the promises God has made to us will be fulfilled in His time—and He is an eternal God. This should not discourage us, but inspire us to finish the race, just as Paul was inspired: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Isabelle Beisiegel

October 10, 2011

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