Home > Christianity, Faith, God, Growth, religion, Spirituality > Is God Really “In Control?”

Is God Really “In Control?”

 Hold on to your hat; you read the title right.  I hear so often, “It’s okay; God has it all under control…”  I confess I’ve become a little jaded and skeptical to this remark.  Before you call me a heretic and demand a refund, hear me out.  I suppose it depends upon the person making the comment.  I assume one or more reasons for this common belief.  Either they: A.) don’t know how else to explain something tragic or stressful, B.) refuse to acknowledge a problem, or C.) really believe that God masterminds every decision, every course of action, including the weather.  There is a fourth option, being sure of what God being “in control” really means.  Let’s examine that, shall we?

When someone uses this common explanation, I can’t help the visual that comes to mind: that of Puppet Master.  The stage is set, the lights are down and suddenly “It’s a Small World” jingles and the puppets begin their show.  You can’t see the strings, nor can you see the “all powerful puppeteer”.  He dances them this way.  He dances them that way.  And if, for some unknown reason, they get themselves all tangled up, He simply snatches a blade and cuts their connection loose, rendering them powerless. 

Is this an accurate portrayal of God?  Does he play games with us, choosing the set?  Do we simply dance to whatever tune He plays?  And when our lives or decisions become entangled, does He cut us loose?  The song is true; He does have the “whole world in His hands.”  Does He manipulate us, pulling our strings to and fro?  Does He cause bad things to happen? 

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I believe that God doesn’t allow anything beyond His control.  He granted us the ability to make our decisions, even when they are the wrong decisions that will likely hurt ourselves and/or others.  There are many times that He intervenes, gently to protect us.  I suppose that would merit the question as to why he doesn’t always.  I can’t answer that except to say that he isn’t a puppeteer.  But, I fear that many people have the puppet master visual in their minds when they think of God.  And that isn’t accurate.  What is interesting is that when the Bible speaks about “control” it isn’t referring to God.  It is a mandate to us!  Self-control, the control of the sinful nature vs. control of righteousness. Romans 8:6 states, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”  There is an implication in this verse.  “The mind controlled by the Spirit” requires action, and constant action at that, by man, a choice to follow Him or go our own direction, dance to our own tune.

On the flip side of things, when we entangle ourselves by making poor choices or even genuine mistakes, is God the puppet master, there to swiftly weave our strings back to un-kinked order, whisking us across the stage back to dancing and singing?  Absolutely not.  While God is always there for us, providing wisdom and direction, we choose to move to His tune or another.  Our actions, even mistakes, have consequences and even when we pick ourselves back up, we may have to sit out and repair the chips and nicks we have created.  What is even more difficult is to accept that we often reap the consequences of someone else’s poor choices.  And sometimes, there seems little logic or understanding as to why bad things happen.  Sickness, loss, and other life tragedies are difficult to make sense of, while in the midst of the situation.  Ultimately, it is important to understand that these things, while our actions may have no connection to them, are the result of the Fall of man.  We live in a corrupted world.  We have fragile bodies because of infectious sin.  All because of the gift of a non-controlling God, the gift of choice.  So, while I believe that God is always there and absolutely nothing, escapes under the radar of the Almighty, He is not a puppeteer.  He is not controlling our every move; we must submit to Him.  Daily.

He provides. 

He protects.

He doesn’t attach strings or play with our lives.

He asks us to follow Him and we can choose to be controlled by the Spirit or aimlessly dance to our own tune. 

One way leads to eternal life, the other to eternal death.

Postscript:  For further dialogue, commentary, and explanation, please check out the comments!

  1. King's Bro
    June 12, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Is God really not in control of our lives? If He isn’t, how can He control anything on the earth? If we can choose something out of God’s control, we are the people in control and God is basically a life coach who we can go to for help when we need it.

    Better yet, how can a God say that “He can do whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 46:1) yet cannot do that unless man cooperates with Him?

    The problem with your argument is that you are implying that God is either a “puppet master” or does not control everything. There isn’t a third option.

    The problem with your argument is that you have to deny the many times in the Bible where God distinctly says that He is in control where my view is looking at where God says He is in control and where God shows that we have responsibility of ourselves. I believe men has many choices, but to say those choices are out of God’s control is not backed by the Bible. To say God is a puppet master and we just do whatever He wants us to do is not backed by the Bible either.

    God is in control of our lives, but we are responsible of our actions. This is not a black and white issue. There is a mystery involved in how this works out, but to completely wipe out one side because you do not like it is interpreting Scripture to your views rather than Scripture changing your views to its own.

    I hope this helps you understand this tough topic.

    • Order in the Quart!
      June 12, 2010 at 4:15 am

      Thank you for responding, however, I think you may want to read my post again. I clearly state, “I believe that God doesn’t allow anything beyond His control.” I do not deny the times where the Bible speaks of God’s authority and control over this world. Colossians 1:17, in particular, is one of my favorite verses, “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” What I did say that most often when the Bible speaks of control, it is in that of submission to God. I also did not say that there are only two options, God being a puppetmaster or man being out of God’s control. He is Sovereign and His authority supercedes everything, but He grants us free will. We are not robots. The bible speaks of men and their plans and how God laughs at man’s schemes. He is over all. I do not attempt to contradict this nor do I wish to.
      I believe your argument that “we are responsible for our actions” was much of what I said throughout the post. Our actions have consequences. We have the choice to submit to His authority or follow our own path. Ultimately, our course of action here on earth will determine our eternal destiny.
      I encourage you to read the post again, though I appreciate your passion to hold to Scripture, so many these days water it down and do as you accuse me of. I believe your argument is an issue of semantics rather than theology. Many blessings,

  2. June 12, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Hi Beautiful! I like your strengh Jennifer. You sure want to make your point and you are right. My view, if I have some, is that God is more interested in our character that in our comfort, then sometimes we get hurt, but even if it sounds like a bad Daddy, it is at the end the right decision. God IS and He is like that because He acts from a point of knowing our future. If we decide so and so is because we have our own knowledge about past and present. But just God knows everything and loves us from that point. And yes, we are ONE with Jesus living in us. Our old men is dead already. So, now we have to come with Him on agreement every single day. We are not puppets, we are better, as you said. We are United with Him, so we then can listen to Him and agree or disagree. There would always be two tress in the garden, bacause the foundation for Love is liberty…free will. So, every time we do something, is us, acording to what He has said. Is not a puppet thing, is an INTIMACY with the Lord thing. Yeah!!
    Abiding in His heart is what make the relationship grows and also as that happen He, God, renews our mind. We always need that one.
    Ok…I LOVE to write, I think thats obvious. Love this post.
    ~Great Love to You Jenn!!!
    Mirian from peelingtheorange. “)

    God Bless your heart!

    • Order in the Quart!
      June 12, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks Mirian! What a wonderful encouragement you are 🙂 You are exactly right: free will is foundational the our relationship with God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice (which is the ultimate foundation), we can have fellowship with Him. But to have continual fellowship, we must submit ourselves (essentially the “ball is in our court.”) daily, even moment by moment, to His control. Its a bit of a paradox!
      So glad you stopped by! I will check out your blog! Many blessings to you, too.
      Love in Christ,

  3. June 12, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Good post. I agree with the gist of it. I would also add that in that Romans reference, Paul also says how he cannot do the right things, even if he wills it. And so there is failure on man’s part, and that’s where grace and so forth comes into play. Otherwise it seems as if man has the power to constantly keep himself in check, which he does not.

    Another possible explanation for “god is in control”: It could be said in a comforting way, reminding someone that there is a presence in the world, and in our lives, that is constant, unchanging, and loving. Just when we may think there is only chaos, it might be good to be reminded that there is ultimate order in the end of things; death, the tragic end of what might seem like chaos, is not the ultimate end of things. And in that there is hope. As you mentioned God as the sustainer of all things, there is a sense of ‘control’ there, like you holding a match in your hands. You’ve lit it and are holding it, and the flame is ever approaching your fingers. God is choosing to hold us even though we may be burning him (so to speak). In that sense, there could be perceived some control by God. He isn’t blowing us out (extinguishing the world), or throwing down the match and stamping it out (Armageddon lol).

    • Order in the Quart!
      June 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks for your reply! Yes, Romans is chalked FULL of great scripture highlighting the plight of man, his need for God, and his necessity to consecrate himself daily. God does not force Himself on us. Great illustration with the match! I am sure you would agree that there will be Armageddon, though!! Yet, we, as Believer’s in christ are spared the wrath! But, again, it is our decision to accept the amazing gift of Christ’s sacrifice that keeps us in fellowship with God.
      Many blessings to you!!

  4. June 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    “Ball is in our Court”. Love that one! Thanks Jenn “)
    ~Have a great weekend and on and on!
    Many Blessings to you and your family.
    Mirian from peelingtheorange.

  5. Sharon
    June 12, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    This is some really, very, extremely, crazy deep theology, and I’ll admit that I’m in way over my head. Did I mention how deep this theology is? ;o)

    I think there’s one choice that you didn’t mention. To say that, “God is in control” doesn’t mean that God controls us as individuals (though I certainly strive to yield my control to Him daily as you talked about). It means that God is in control. Here’s choice D: He has a huge plan beyond what we can even think or imagine. And there is no circumstance, no action, and no choice we can make that will change that plan. Sure we have free will, but our choices (though they are many) will not limit God and the ultimate plan He has for us and our world. We are not in control…He is! We are nothing…He is everything!

    I’m reading “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and just saw this video yesterday http://crazylovebook.com/videos_awe.html. It put things in perspective for me.

    I find it very comforting to know that God is in control. In a few months (feels more like moments) my identical twin sister and her family is moving to the literal other side of the world. I’m prepared for it to be the hardest time in my life, and I’m wondering what God has up His proverbial sleeve. He’s the one who made me to be an identical twin. Scientifically, if the egg hadn’t split, there would’ve been one human…not two. But there are two, and in many ways I and my sister feel like we’re one person walking around in two bodies. Now part of me is going to be almost 10,000 miles away! I’m trusting that God is, indeed, in control. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    From reading your post, it gives me the impression that you believe we (as humans) are in the driver’s seat. I don’t think that’s your philosophy at all…is it? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your words. We’re usually on the same page, and more than likely we are on this topic, too. Those pesky things called words are probably just getting in the way. ;o)

    Love ya!

    • Order in the Quart!
      June 12, 2010 at 10:54 pm

      Hey Sharrrron? 😉
      Thanks for commenting here! First, I don’t claim to have all the answers, so no worries. I am on the same journey (different paths) that you are!

      No, I don’t believe that humans are in the driver seat, but I do believe that we have free will to make our decisions. I disagree with you to an extent when you said that “our choices..will not limit God and the ultimate plan He has for us….” God’s plan was for us to live in Eden, in unaltered fellowship with Him. His design was not to have a separation. It was not His plan to have “any one perish” as John so eloquently states. However, that being said, there is nothing that goes unnoticed or unplanned for. He knows every decision we will make before we ever contemplate it. Though His plan is what is best for us and what He intended, we can choose to accept less that his best and opt for our own way, which so many do. He knew this before the dawn of man and already had “plan B” drafted up, knowing what was ahead. This was where Jesus entered. If man had stayed in God’s plan, Jesus’ death would not have been necessary.
      Thanks for sharing!! Love you, too.

  6. June 13, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Good post and discussion here…One of the things I most look forward to when I pass from this life is to see/hear about the times that God sovereignly protected me from some of the consequences for choices I made and also to see the times when I faced the consequences of my actions and didn’t realize it at the time. I’ve always loved the the scripture that says “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”. I can look back on my life and see the hand of God on my life (in good ways and in chastening) but I’m sure I’ve missed out on a lot more that I just never realized.

    King’s Bro, I’m not sure what you were reading but what you stated is exactly the point Jennifer was trying to get across.

    • Order in the Quart!
      June 13, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks Dave! Yeah, great point about not knowing how much God intervened! I always think that too. For instance last year my hubby and I decided to take a “Sunday” drive in the country. Later we heard about a tragic accident in one of the intersections we were on….we wondered if God spared us that? And then one could go on to “Why us?” As I mentioned there are many times that God intervenes in our lives for unknown reasons, like you said I imagine it will all be clear when we meet Him face to face OR it will no longer matter 🙂
      I am so thankful for God’s Omnipotence, grace and Omnipresence and that He understands my limited, finite, human brain!!!

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