It's easy to get confused these days. “Out of control” isn't what we want to be. People who drink too much are said to be “out of control.” The same goes for those who go too far with anything: prescription drugs, food, fitness, sex, work — you name it. A home lacking direction and leadership, affirmation and love, fair and consistent discipline represents a family that is “out of control,” no question. Someone who talks too much is verbally “out of control.” Those who worry too much become emotionally “out of control.”

But wait. Does this mean we're supposed to be “in control?” Is that our goal? Before you answer, consider. I know a boss (in fact I know several) who is definitely “in control.” Folks who work for them either stay, deciding to grin and bear it, or jump ship as soon as another job surfaces. Some fathers are, without question, “in control.” They intimidate, dominate, moderate, and manipulate. Mothers-in-law are notoriously known for this — not all, but many. They are usually the same ones who control their husbands. He finally gets so weary of her manipulative manoeuvres, he resorts to long golf games and, when home, hours and hours in front of the TV. Interestingly, he has become an out-of-control couch potato, married to an in-control Mother Superior…and no one resents it more than their married kids.

Webster defines control, “to exercise restraining or directing influence over: regulate: to have power over: rule.” Perhaps one of the synonyms for being “in control” would be “controlling.” That helps relieve some of the confusion. Being “in control” doesn't necessarily mean “controlling.” A healthy, happy life requires being in control of ourselves. To be punctual, we must control the use of our time. To be prepared and ready, we must be in control of our schedule. To be a good listener, our mind and tongue must be controlled. To get a project completed, our tendency to procrastinate must be under the firm control of our determination.

This means, then, that we need to be in firm control of ourselves…but not controlling of others. Our example? Christ, of course. He got the job done. Without wasted effort, personal panic, or extreme demands, He accomplished the objective. Right on schedule, He went to that Cross. When He sighed, “It is finished,” it was. Did most believe? Are you kidding? The vast majority back then, as now, didn't give Him the time of day. Could He have grabbed the controls and forced them to sit up and take notice? Remember what He said? “... do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father and He will at once put at My disposal more than 12 legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). I'd call 72,000 angels being in charge, wouldn't you? It was His own control that restrained Him from controlling others.

In brief, the Christian life boils down to a battle of the wills: Christ's vs. our own. Every day we live we must answer, “Who's in charge here?” To say that He is means we leave the driving to Him, which includes the vehicle, the map, the route, the works.

I received a letter from a fine Christian couple. I smiled understandingly at one line: “Although the Lord has taken good care of my wife and me for the past 38 years, He has taken control of us for the past two and a half.” Tell me, how long has the Lord taken care of you? Be honest, now … has He also taken control of you? If not, you're “out of control” because you're so determined to stay “in control.” It's easy to get confused these days. It's even easier to take control.

Charles R. Swindoll adapted from “Control,” Think it Over, March 25-31, 1990.




About the author:  Chuck Swindoll

Chuck Swindoll