I'm a Control Freak
There was an advert several years ago that, if memory serves, had the key character exclaiming: ‘I’m a control freak!’
Anyway, that advert is on my mind at the moment because it sums us (or me at least) up perfectly: ‘I’m a control freak!’ Because the reality is this: who doesn’t want to be in control? Of my life? Of my decisions? Of my choices? The list could go on.
And in many ways I am in control; and you are in control. One of the fundamental truths that I believe about God is that He loves us so much that He has chosen to let us make our own choices; with the ultimate choice being that we can choose whether to follow Him or not: He invites us; but He doesn’t force us – we are in control.
And yet whilst we are free to keep control of our lives, the thing that sticks out to me as we journey through Advent in particular, but as we look at Jesus’ entire life too, is that He was the very opposite of a control freak. And this fact is made all the more amazing by virtue of the fact that if anyone could legitimately be said to be in control it was Jesus. Take a few examples: at the beginning of John’s Gospel we read that Jesus made everything – He is the creator and was in control of creation! Or take the story of Him calming the storm out on the Sea of Galilee – not only is He creator, but the wind and the waves continue to obey Him. Or think of the healings and the exorcisms – He has control over sickness, and the spiritual powers. And ultimately look to the resurrection: Jesus is in control over death.
But then look at the Bethlehem manger: the second person of the Trinity; the creator; God Himself lying in a makeshift cot of wood. And as He lies there He is no longer in control: He is fully reliant on a mother to feed Him and a father to protect him. And then fast forward to another piece of wood: the cross of Golgotha. And once again we see the second person of the Trinity; the all powerful one capable of calling down legions of angels to defend Himself; and yet willing to hang there on our behalf. And so at both the crib and the cross we see in Christ the voluntary laying aside of control-over-self that has become such an accepted and valued part of being human for so many of us today.
Yet the challenge (for me at least) is this: if Jesus is fully human then for us to become fully human is to become more like Him. And if His full humanity is seen in His willingness to lay aside control should we not be quicker to put down that desire and drive when it arises in us – or at the very least to recognise when it is an unhealthy and selfishly motivated desire; and on those occasions to cut it off.
Ultimately, I suppose, the crux (pun intended) of it is this: the control freak in us comes from the fall – the desire to replace God, to know and decide everything for ourselves. But the laying aside of our ‘right’ to be in control comes from the crib and the cross. And at my best I want to be a person of crib and cross.
And so as we reflect on both the crib and the cross as we continue through this Advent season, might you make it your prayer that the Spirit will highlight those areas in which you are still trying to hold onto control in order that, with His help and the example of Jesus in mind, you might freely surrender them to God and His desire for and calling on your life…