Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Illusion of Control

National I Am in Control Day


Church tradition commemorates the Thursday before Easter as “Maundy Thursday”—the day of Jesus’ last supper with His disciples. It was the evening before His crucifixion, when He spent time in the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. This year, the commemoration of that day is next Thursday, April 1.

Another day will be commemorated next week. Our western culture celebrates National “I Am in Control” Day. Really, it’s a thing. And it’s observed annually on March 30, which happens to be next Tuesday.

This year, those two days fall in the same week. And yes, I will, indeed, connect them.

When I first learned of National I Am in Control Day, I laughed. After all, I’m a self-confessed recovering control freak. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that control is nothing more than an illusion.

After all, there’s really not much we can control.

  • Weather? Certainly not. Meteorologists will be the first to tell you that.
  • Children? Parents of prodigals might wish it were so.
  • Spouses? Okay, on the count of three, let’s all roll our eyes at that one!
  • Health? You can do everything right: eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and still receive a diagnosis that sucker-punches you so hard you’re left gasping for air.

So if control is next to impossible, why are so many of us consumed with its pursuit?

Perhaps it’s because admitting I’m not in control means having to acknowledge that someone else is. Someone else who is not only in control of the universe, He’s in control of my life.

But if I admit that, then I must also acknowledge accountability to Him. And for those who refuse to worship the God of creation, that is an unacceptable admission.

Who was in control at Gethsemane?

I’m especially reminded of the illusion of control as Easter approaches and the last week of the life of Jesus comes into focus, particularly His time in the Garden of Gethsemane. Remember the gospel accounts? Jesus was praying in the Garden when Judas betrayed Him.

Consider the cast of characters:

  • Judas thought he was in control. After all, he led the soldiers to Jesus. But in the end, regret caused him to take his own life.
  • Peter thought he was in control, and he cut off the ear of one of the mob. But Jesus restored the man’s ear and told Peter to put away his sword.
  • The soldiers thought they were in control. Yet when Jesus identified Himself they initially drew back and fell to the ground.
  • The religious leaders thought they were in control, but the person whose death they demanded did not stay dead.
  • The Roman Governor Pilate thought he was in control. But he was left asking, “What is truth?” even as he gazed into the face of Truth.

Although it doesn’t appear so, Jesus was the only one with absolute power over His circumstances that evening. He could have stopped the proceedings at any time with the intervention of legions of angels, but He chose not to. He temporarily submitted to the earthly power of others, but He trusted the eternal power—and sovereign control—of His Father.

That tells me something about control. It’s an illusion if I think I have it. But when I trust my heavenly Father, acknowledging His power over my life and my circumstances, then I’m no longer deceived by the illusion.

I can claim God is sovereign over His creation—including me. But if I’m constantly trying to control my circumstances, what does that reveal about what I truly believe? The adage, “Actions speak louder than words,” comes to mind.

Not that releasing the illusion of control is easy. If anything, it’s one of the most difficult things this recovering control-freak has ever done. Still, the reward is well worth the effort. Great peace results when I cease striving and know—rest in the truth—that God is God and He is in control (Psalm 46:10).

How about you? In what area have you been striving for control . . . only to discover it’s an illusion?


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  1. Janice D. Green

    Well stated and powerfully so. No matter how hard we try to be in control, things continue to fall beyond our reach.

  2. Melissa Henderson

    I am thankful to know I can rely on God at all times. When I am out of control with my eating or my emotions, I lean in to Him and find the answers. Great message Ava.

  3. Jessica Brodie

    I used to think I was in control, but NOPE – only God is. Surrendering to him is key.

  4. Jeanne Takenaka

    Ahhh, Ava. I understand where you’re coming from! I, too, am a recovering control freak. And, it hasn’t been easy to open up my hands and hold them to the Father. God has shown me so much as I’ve relinquished my craving for control into His hands.

  5. Melinda Viergever Inman

    A beautiful post, Ava! I’m writing this on March 30, I Am in Control Day, and I can guarantee that I am NOT in control, but I am exceedingly grateful that God the Son, Jesus Messiah, absolutely was in control on that day he died for us. Only he would do such a thing. Only he loves us that much, and I am so glad he does and he did.

  6. Yvonne Morgan

    Great post. Thinking we have control is truly an illusion. I learned this years ago as I watched my 9 day old son slipped away from this world. Thankfully, I trust and believe in the One who controls the winds and everything.

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