There is a complex collection of reactions, emotions, circumstances, and events each of us lives within at any small moment in time. Most of the circumstances and events are out of our control, and therefore, somewhat unpredictable. The two remaining items, reactions and emotions, just about sum up the totality of our sphere of influence.
Ironically, we make attempts to completely plan events and circumstances, in order to rationally control our reactions and emotions. We call this "freedom".
But is it really freedom? For as far back as I can recollect, I was taught to make good plans, by my parents, siblings, teachers, and various elders who were either related to me, or had some impact in my early life. I was taught that I was in control of my successes or failures. Around the age of twenty-five, I began to see that this idea wasn't reality, that it was more closely associated with idealism.
As a teenager, I learned disappointment, and grew to an ability to not only walk through it, but accept it. All of my life, until near the age of thirty-two, I believed that all I had to do was try harder, and harder, and harder, and "success" would follow.
I came close a couple of times, to a success that the world would understand. I came close those times to wild financial success, or unbelievable spiritual success, only to have my legs torn out from underneath by circumstances and events clearly beyond my control. Throughout the first series of close encounters with wild success, I was told that more planning had been necessary; that I had to learn to eliminate every circumstance which could do me in, and ruin my chances for success. So, I worked harder, and harder, believing the lie, that if I only planned correctly, all of my effort would one day result in what I had hoped for.
I placed my early faith in myself and my efforts, and my faith failed, a little more each time my plans and hard work failed to achieve the results I expected. I wasn't destitute, but I was not where I thought a person such as me should be. I was uncomfortable with my results, and I had no one to blame but myself.
I lived all of those years under the illusion that I was in control of my life. I lived all of those years believeing I was so free that the right amount of planning and effort would overcome any circumstance I happened upon. I was wrong.
Oddsmakers cannot even begin to calculate the complexity that is one single human life in one moment in time. Psychologists and scientists spend lifetimes studying the human mind, brain, and emotions. But for all of their effort, they cannot touch the complexity of human life; not even for a moment.
How many people now live in this world? Is it three billion? Is it five billion? At some point, that number becomes meaningless; lost in the eternal hurricane that is humanity, and more broadly, this world.
How many circumstances and events occur to one person in a single day? A single hour? A single minute? A single moment? Can anyone count them?
How many of those events and circumstances are truthfully beyond our control? Can anyone count them? Does anyone have an answer?
How many of those circumstances and events are we able to control? Certainly someone should be able to count that?
I no longer measure success financially or with how well my family is doing, or how wonderful a Christian I am. I have failed in all of them, and have come to grips with it. I am content to live; merely to live. I enjoy the events and circumstances that make up the purview of my control now, and simply experience the ones that aren't, filing what I can away into memories that I will recall as I walk through the hurricane of life.
I will never, ever admit that I set my sights too high, and that was the reason I didn't achieve what I thought I could. I would admit that my sights were set on the wrong things, but more than that, I willingly admit that none of it mattered.
The truth is, we are not in control. I am a witness; we can fool ourselves all of our lives into believing that we are. But can you count all of the events and circumstances out of your control that occur around you in a single minute? Because until you can do even that simplest of things, you are most definitely not in control. It means that you don't even know everything you need to know to be in control. You don't even know what you don't know.
Freedom does not lie in in this trumped up idealism we call control. We have planned events and circumstances to control our reactions and emotions; literally to design the desired outcomes we dream of. At best, all we can do is react to events and circumstances, because the overwhelming majority of events and circumstances that make up our lives consists of things well beyond our control.
Freedom lies not in believing you are in control, but in knowing you aren't.
I think Jesus was trying to tell us all something two thousand years ago. I think he was telling us we weren't held responsible because we weren't ever in control to begin with. And those who know this, who embrace it, can now live a life of freedom experienced by few others before them, while those who grasp and plan and scheme a concocted and false control in their lives have condemned themselves to a jail they cannot escape from.
The truth indeed will set you free. We are, the entire world, reconciled to God. But in this life, which we all must live, we will come to many conclusions. I count the greatest conclusion of mine being the understanding that I am free from the jail of knowing the right path and the wrong path, as being free, and knowing it, from planning to be in control, when all evidences surrounding me show me that I am not.
I live in this world working hard because I can, but not because I have to. I live in this world reacting to events and circumstances around me, because that is the best that I can manage. To be certain, I make plans and set goals, even sometimes for the smallest things. But always these plans understand the greater truth; that I am not in control.
I live with far fewer disappointments in my life right now than at any other time. My expectations are not of the type you will read about in Wallstreet Journal. Rather, they are the expectations of a free man; that I will live until I die, and everything up until that point is a wonderful and sometimes frightening surprise.