Facing the Illusion of Control

The next several weeks of blogs will be based on our most recent animated reading, “A Ruinous Drawing.” Click here to see the full text and here to watch the video.

I used to be fine, strong and secure.

The “illusion of control” is the propensity to overestimate our ability to control life events. It presumes that given enough resources, patience, and understanding we can craft the kind of life we desire. Scripture, however says something very different about the nature of control: “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

This is a hard truth to swallow and one that runs counter to almost every driving impulse behind the scientific and technological advances of the modern world. If we are honest, however, we would admit that deep down we harbor an unspoken insecurity regarding our actual lack of control over even the most basic realities of daily life. So, we fight tooth and nail to maintain this fiction of control. Yet, as terrifying as the shattering of this illusion may be, it is equally life-changing and pregnant with hope.

It is one thing, as Christians, to give lip service to the belief in God’s sovereignty but it’s another to truly live like we believe it. Imagine being rid of the ever-present anxiety that our lives may not go as we wish. Not that we no longer care what happens to us and our loved ones but we really trust that God knows best and is more than capable of keeping us in his good care. Yes, such blind trust may appear naive and childlike to human reason, but this is exactly the very attitude Jesus said was necessary for a life of thriving faith (Matthew 18:3). And if we need some assurance in embracing such radical trust, we only need to look at the multitude of others who’ve chosen this way—speak to them face to face or read their biographies—to know we are not simply “whistling in the wind.”

Are you facing a situation where you are offended or shocked by your apparent weakness or inability to change things? In these times we can either mourn the loss of some apparent sense of control or we can reevaluate the beliefs that have led to this present moment. Such kind of reflection doesn’t happen in a state of perpetual distraction; it requires silence and the posture of stillness.

Yes, the illusion of control runs deep in the human heart but in Christ God can root it out. Someday we’ll wonder how naive we were for actually believing that once we were fine, strong and secure. Next week we talk about trusting God amidst the pain and confusion of suffering.


What Do You Think?

Can you identify with the illusion of control? What would it mean for you to intentionally reject this mindset in your circumstances today?


Author: David Trementozzi

David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. To learn more about David, go to the About David page above.