Losing Control as a Person of Faith

I have always been a person who relies on routine to maintain a level of certainty and steadiness in the midst of life’s craziness. I am also a person of faith in Jesus. On the surface, the two don’t seem to mix, because it would seem that faith is embracing the unseen. The routine allows me to consistently feel connected to Him, often reinforcing my faith. But what happens when life becomes particularly crazy?

Despite living in a pandemic, my family has been exploring moving. Why not just let the crazy get a little crazier, right? We’ve looked at houses, gotten our house ready to sell, and now we’re just a few weeks from moving.

As the stay home orders in my state were issued back in March, I had several weeks of sleep debilitating anxiety, largely to the increased demands I was experiencing at my church. Then things leveled off and I felt normal. Until, last month. Again, sleep debilitating anxiety, mostly because I couldn’t get my mind to stop playing through all the worst-case scenarios of buying and selling a house.

Though the circumstances of moving and a pandemic are wholly different, the mind-racing outcome in my life is connected: I was losing control. And for me, as a consistent, routine-oriented person, control is what I need, or at least the feeling of it. I structure my life in order to have a feeling of control. How ironic that I cling to control and yet my vocation is helping people take steps of faith toward Jesus.

Here’s the big conclusion I’ve come to in trying to work through my struggle with losing control of certainty in my life: control is a myth!

Blaise Pascal, the scientist turned Christian apologist, describes the uneasiness we all live with:

“When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in an eternity before and after, the little space I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified…The eternal silence of these infinite spaces alarms me”

(Pascal, Thoughts, 28)

What Pascal is pushing toward is the fear we all have of uncertainty. I may have faith in Jesus, but every human has faith. Or better said, every person places their hope somewhere. Why? Because with so much uncertainty we naturally try to find answers that provide a more foundational understanding of life.

In earning several degrees my sense of knowledge actually decreased instead of increasing. You might think that my time spent studying and learning would give me a greater sense of my own abilities to know and learn, but in fact, the opposite happened. As I learned I became more aware of how much I didn’t know. I think living in our age of technology and scientific achievement paints a similar picture: we still don’t know much.

In these pandemic times, many have looked to science to find answers, and while science gives us clues about how best to respond, a mutating virus does not make concrete answers possible. Even the things meant to provide answers don’t fulfill. Walker Percy describes this well:

“You live in a deranged age—more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”

Control is a myth. Even the best of science and technology has not been able to keep a virus from tearing apart every seemingly stable area of our lives. Back in the early days of Covid restrictions I posted Psalm 91, as a timely work of God’s sheltering presence in the midst of uncertainty. Here’s a brief section:

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.

Psalm 91:9-10

I don’t have simple answers for helping you release control. If I had the answers I could write this in past tense instead of present. But no, this is my current reality—desiring for something I cannot obtain: control. What I do have is God’s Word that reminds us of the certainty of His activity and presence in our lives. I’ll put my faith in Him.