I do exercise videos. There, I said it.
By “do” I don’t mean to imply that I record my own exercise videos, but I do frolic awkwardly in my living room, sweating on the rug, while a kid throws toys at me, and I willingly obey someone yelling at me for thirty minutes. I hate it. In spite of what the instructor suggests, I can’t do anything for a minute. Sometimes I quit after 45 seconds. And, if I had 110 percent I’d give it to you, but I think around 57 percent is my max.
I’m far from an exercise junky—as you’d quickly notice if you looked at me—but I keep doing the videos. I think I know why. I enjoy the sense of control they bring. I know how much I can lift, how much cardio I can endure, and what I weigh. I know that if I do the workouts and control my eating then certain things are sure to happen—I’ll get stronger, have more stamina, and weigh less. There’s a clear one-to-one correlation between my actions and the results.
This is not true in many others areas of my life, and I’d imagine, it’s not true of your life either. There’s so much that seems out of control, even chaotic.
My actions do not always produce the intended consequences. Sometimes they actually do the exact opposite of what I intended. I challenge a friend to pursue holiness in a certain area and, rather than receiving my words as a demonstration of love and care, he gets mad. I try to have a meaningful conversation with one of my kids about the gospel and it devolves into a discussion about the latest American Girl doll accessory.
This is just the way it goes. There’s so much about life that we can’t control.
I think that’s why we are all so prone to latch on to secondary things that give us a sense of control. We spend endless time discussing the latest dietary craze or wonder drug because it gives us the feeling that we are the captains of our own ships.
Decisions about the education of our children, whether or not to vaccinate, our retirement scenarios, and a host of other choices we make are prone to this same temptation. All of life is unpredictable, so I’ve got to find something that I can make happen.
Clearly these decisions matter. We should care about making wise choices for our families, our finances, and our bodies. But, like everything else in life, it’s easy to allow these secondary matters to become a pseudo-god. Or better—it’s easy for us to make ourselves god and make these decisions as an exercise in self-sovereignty.
That’s probably why we get so chippy when someone challenges one of these issues, like homeschooling our children, or when something we’ve loved is taken from us, like our health. We cling to them tightly because they are our one life-line to control.
It’s simply scary to entrust ourselves completely to a supremely sovereign God. Life this side of eternity is out of control—that’s the nature of life in a fallen world. But God is in control. He’s ordained my days, each and every one of them (Ps. 139:13,16).
Rather than grappling for control, better to learn to entrust myself to a God who’s got everything under control already. Then, I can make decisions about life’s complexity without holding them too tightly or believing that I’m actually in control in the first place.