I sat on the beach and watched my son play in the ocean. “I’ll be fine, Dad,” he told me. But he didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.
At the age of six, Silas has no idea of what the ocean can do. Sharks make for an intriguing video; he thinks he can swim away. Waves are to be ridden; he doesn’t know they could sweep him away. Rip currents are as unknown to him as they are unseen to the rest of us.
As he played in the ocean, my son was living at the first level of awareness. Level one of awareness says, “I control the ocean.” Since he could jump the swells, ride the waves, and do whatever he wanted in the water on that calm day, my son foolishly assumed he was in control. In the same way, many of us come to the foolish conclusion that we control our lives. (See: You Chose This–A Reflection on Time Management)
Because nothing bad has happened to us and since we can navigate life in a calm season, we think we are in charge. Not only is this naive about our own lives, it often leads to judgment toward others. If we control our lives then others must control theirs. So if something bad happens to them, it’s their fault. Poverty, illness, broken relationships are not viewed in the context of systems, cultures, or bad circumstances. They are seen as life choices. We foolishly believe since we aren’t poor or sick, other people shouldn’t choose to be either.
It won’t take much to shake Silas from his 6-year-old logic to a more mature view. A big enough wave, strong enough current, or a sudden storm will raise his awareness. Level two awareness says, “The ocean controls me.” Anyone with a little experience in the water knows a human does not control the ocean, the ocean controls them. We might be able to play in the water, ride the waves, and explore the marine-life, but we do not control the ocean. The ocean can do with us whatever it wants. Every sea captain knows this. Every person living on the beach understands this. This is the second level of awareness—the ocean controls us. (See: God Controls Even Our Darkest Days)
It’s easy for this world to feel out of our control. A bad diagnosis, an unexplained job loss, a broken relationship, the death of a parent, the illness of a spouse or child, can open our eyes to our own inability. It can be a hopeless feeling. To go from feeling in total control to realizing our absolute lack of control is one of life’s most frightening experiences. But it is the trip of maturity. Believing we control everything is foolish. Knowing we control very little is much more wise.
Finally, there is a third level of awareness. Many people spend their lives either arrogantly believing they are in control of this world or dreadfully existing in the belief that their lives are held in the balance of fate. But a few realize the deepest of life’s truths. Level three of awareness says, “God’s in control of the ocean.”
While the world is not under our control, we are not bound by the whims of nature. God is more powerful than nature. Life often does not make sense, however, that does not mean there is no sense to life. God’s sovereign control over his creation ensures meaning and purpose. We are reminded of God’s habit of bringing good even out of the most evil of circumstances. (See: You Control What Matters Most)
Living in level one of awareness is the epitome of arrogance and ignorance. It will ensure foolish action on our part and unfair judgment toward others.
Living in level two of awareness results in deep apathy and despair. It will lead us to passivity and an overwhelming sense of the vanity of life.
Living in level three of awareness gives us hope and meaning. It requires faith in every circumstance of life, but it allows us endurance no matter what comes our way.
If you foolishly believe you are in control of everything in your life—wake up. You aren’t that powerful.
If you sadly believe there is no purpose for the things in your life—look up. Life has more design than you think.
If you rightly believe God is in control of all things—speak up. The world needs to hear of your faith even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
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