The illusion of control
“You never had control, that’s the illusion!”
Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jurassic Park, 1993
“The key to a happy life is to accept you are never actually in control.”
Jurassic World, 2015
Jurassic world was a great flick.
It’s difficult to follow up an iconic film because there’s a delicate balance between giving it the creative nod it deserves and death by nostalgia. You don’t want to commit the sin of forsaking heritage, but at the same time, you want to do bold things for a new audience.
Slow Clap, Trevorrow. Slow clap.
I do have one criticism, but I’m fairly certain what I’m about to poke at was the byproduct of intentionality. OK. Hold onto your butts …
The 1993 story arch was airlifted into the 2015 film and then dialled to eleven.
There. I said it.
The Jurassic story picks up 20 years later, where we find ourselves bigger-badder-faster-stronger and absolutely convinced we’re too smart to commit past sins. Critique over. Yes, the story arch was the same, but from a certain anthropological point of view: it needed to be. Finite beings clamouring after infinite control might be cliche’ – but historically speaking, it’s undeniably human.
There is no better stage from which to commit your past sins than from the one you built on the premise that you’re beyond committing your past sins.
We crave to control everything in our lives: spirit, soul and body. Oh, and other people. The problem is, this fragile thing called “life” insists on reminding us that we aren’t in control. I’m not proposing fatalism whereby we’re not responsible for our day-to-day choices because the gods wound the world up and let it go. I’m proposing that as finite beings with finite understanding and finite lifespans, we would do well to revisit and rest (daily) in the liberating truth that our lives are in the Hands of the One who is infinite and actually does have control.
Having said that, the Scriptures reveal that our reflex in suffering is to doubt that God is in control or, depending on the depth of our pain, doubt that He exists. All Christians have doubts about God. We all have “I believe, help my unbelief” moments in life. All our doubt about God stems from our chronic need to control everything and be god. It’s in our nature – we got that from our parents in the garden.
When you think about it, the philosophical exercise of doubting God’s existence based on our suffering is fairly egocetnric. First we decide what we would do if we were God. Then we assume that if there was a God, He would agree with us on all our conclusions. Next we find evidence in the world that indicates that God isn’t doing what we would if we were Him. Finally, we conclude that God must not exist because if God were in control, He would do what we would do if we were in control. The best way to sleep at night with that kind of philosophy is to never wonder if it’s possible that God could disagree with you.
Depending on your worldview, the fact that you cannot have god-like control is either incredibly threatening or incredibly liberating.
If your peace and hope rides on your ability to have control, then your hope is fragile. It’s always at the mercy of what is out of your control because you are finite.
If your peace and hope rides on One who is in control, then your hope is indestructible. The things in this world that are out of your control drive you toward your hope rather than stealing it because God is infinite.
Good news: the gospel was first preached in Genesis 3 by God Himself. God controlling things is synonymous with Him restoring things. His sovereignty is not cold fatalism that controls us as slaves, but Fatherly engagement that restore us as children. He created us in grace and He re-creates us in grace. He needed nothing when He created us and He still needs nothing as He recreates us – He’s complete within Himself. All is grace. Hope will never be found in having complete control, but in resting in the One who does.
“Our restless hearts will remain restless until they find their rest in God.” – Augustine