God Is Not In ControlYou Are
Ethan and I had a talk last night.
He had briefly forgotten who he was (a son of Love) and at that moment he said some things to mom he didn’t truly believe. I met him in his room.
Now, I am about to tell a story that displays brilliant parenting and what’s more, I realized it as it was happening. Why? Because while I was talking with Ethan I was ministering to myself. I’m a verbal processor. That means I have had many embarrassing moments in my life where, at best I was talking to myself and it was brilliant, at worst I was talking to myself and it was heretical.
By the time I was done talking, Ethan had sat through a 30-minute message on the nature of our Father—it was brilliant!
“Ethan, I don’t want to control you, nor can I.” I smiled at him.
He was trying to follow me. I could see it in his eyes.
I went further, “God doesn’t want to control you either, nor can He. Control is the opposite of who He is. It’s as opposite as light is to darkness. He is never about control. He is always about freedom. Did you know that?”
Ethan nodded. It wasn’t the first time he’s heard me say it. But never in this circumstance, as a correction, or discipline.
“Son, only you have control of your heart.”
This comment led us into the wonder of the Holy Spirit. We discussed how the same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus—that empowered Him to live in the authority of the miraculous, that was with Him through His death, that raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at the right hand of the Father—that same brilliant Holy Spirit lives in Ethan. And one of the evidences, one of the fruits of His in-filling presence, is self-control.
And here is where it got away from me and I began preaching… Poor kid.
“You see Ethan, I believe self-control is the only kind of control God endorses. It’s the gift of choice and the evidence of His Spirit within us. It’s why there were two trees in the garden. In the garden, the freedom to choose was birthed in the fact that God gave control of Adam to Adam and control of Eve to Eve. Self-control was the evidence that they were walking in freedom. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In the garden, the lie that separated humanity from God was a lie of control, and who had it.
The fact is, Adam and Eve were walking out the perfection of their freedom through the gift of self-control—each controlling themselves.
Then Satan shows up and distorts the nature of God with a lie. The lie? That God is in control.
And they bought it: they believed that God was withholding some measure of freedom from them.
Do you understand that the seed of Satan’s lie was that God is about control? The idea that He withholds freedom suggests an imperfection in our Father’s love—as if He is not always good.
I believe this original distortion of our Father’s nature is still the foundational lie that separates us from His love and the fullness of our freedom in Christ.
The fact is, Adam and Eve sold their self-control, and with it their freedom, to Satan. Until Jesus arrived, humanity lived in that paradigm. Then Jesus walked the earth, He lived, He died, and He rose. He took all authority, and He gave it back to us, and with it the stunning, powerful freedom of self-control.
Through the cross and in intimacy with the Holy Spirit, we now have the power and freedom to control ourselves again!
The lie that God is about control removes us from the freedom of self-control. Self-control is His perfect gift to us. It’s what sets us free to be fully loved—to fully love. God has given us the full freedom of self-control; the ability to control oneself, to chose love.”
Ethan, my captive audience sat quietly listening waiting for me to be done. He could just barely appreciate my excitement, but mostly, he wanted to go play video games.
I brought it home.
“You know, I could control you, Ethan. I could force, manipulate or straight-up shame you into obedience. You’re only ten. I can make you behave. But someday my boy, you will be a man and beyond my ability to control. But son, I don’t want to control you. I want you to control yourself. I want you to value freedom as the Holy Spirit does. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Dad,” Ethan responded. And I think he did understand. Or at least, he will one day.
“Son, I love you, can you go clean up your mess with mom?” I asked.
Ethan left to find his mom.
I pondered on how control is always about behavior. And how, if I wanted to be a good father, I would need to be less interested in behavior and more interested in my son’s identity. That is to say, I want my boy to know love, and in love’s freedom, to control himself. If Ethan knows my love and our Father’s love, he is set free to be a son of the King. And in that identity, he can control himself. You see, behavior follows identity.
I can’t truly control Ethan’s heart, nor do I want to. And I would like to suggest that neither can God, nor does He want to. He is never about control. His love is the perfection of His goodness and it’s always about freedom and that freedom looks like sons and daughters living in control of themselves, in the authority of His love.
This issue about control has been burning in my heart these last few months. I have pages and pages written, many of them I’m sure will make their way into future articles. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a book.
You see, I think this lie that God is all about control is a big one, and I am going after it hard. Anywhere in my life where I find it, I am surrendering to His perfect love.
I am convinced that my freedom is found in the fruit of the Spirit—self control. And I’m convinced yours is as well. I would like to suggest that God is not in control—you are. I think this is what Jesus purchased for us, and it’s this gift that will empower us to live on earth as it is in heaven.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story Ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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