The Illusion of Control

Lent IV

by Fr. Mark Hall

John 7:25-end

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”   John 7:38

I love the idea of being organized; of knowing where everything is and easily being able to access it at a moment’s notice.  The notion of a clutter free life is so appealing, and yet always seems to be out of reach.  It seems such a desire has been rooted in the human heart for centuries.   Yet, even a seemingly innocent and apparently good desire can be twisted into a counterfeit that diminishes life.

You may be asking yourself, how can this be?  Could Real Simple magazine actually be a bad thing?  Honestly I believe it’s neutral, the issue is: What Does It Do To Our Hearts?  God reveals the worst route such a desire can take within us:

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

The issue is about control.  Who actually has it, and whether we’re willing to accept the answer?  Instead of waiting upon the pure, though unpredictable water source of a live spring, the Israelites tried to create storage containers for water.  This way they could see what they had and feel secure.  The problem was that the water stagnated and leaked into the ground.  So they were left with a fleeting illusion of security, because they had abandoned their trust in God.

I’m not saying being organized is wrong, nor that being disorganized, is saintly.  The bigger question is how do we respond internally (feelings) and externally (relationally) when things are out of their proper place?  Or why might the organizationally challenged obsess over Ikea catalogues?  What are we really thirsting after?

Jesus, in the midst of tremendous opposition, stood up and declared that he alone can quench our deepest thirst.  He can cleanse our desires and make them good again.  All that is required is that we let go of whatever we’re clinging to for a deep sense of security and peace.  John tells us that “the fountain of living waters” which represent God’s dynamic presence and power can flow out of the core of our being.  This good news has nothing to do with being organized or disorganized, but it does mean letting go of the illusion of control, and trusting in God’s competent care of our lives and the universe as a whole.

Fr. Mark ministers at All Saints’ Anglican Church


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