My last trip to Mars didn’t go so well.
Well, technically it went the same as every other time I’ve gone, Gary Sinise gave me my instructions, I pulled a slingshot around the moon, awoke from hypersleep in an unexpected asteroid shower, and then overshot the Mars landing strip while heroically managing not to plummet my entire crew to their death.
And then I enjoyed the rest of my day at Disney’s Epcot.
Mission: Space is one of my favorite rides for one simple reason. Control. Sure the gravity simulation is cool, but the real genius is that you (and 3 others) are put in charge of key story moments in the ride by pushing one of the many switches and buttons on the console in front of you. Of course, none of them really do anything, but just the illusion that you are controlling the experience adds an element of engagement that I always find thrilling. In fact, to this day if my brother and I get a chance to ride Mission: Space together, we take our roles ridiculously seriously. We don’t just push our buttons as instructed; we also shout out random instructions to each other in nonsense technical jargon, flip the other useless switches as we see fit, and play act the entire experience as if our lives depend on it. There’s just something exhilarating about being in control, even when it’s an illusion.
Which it usually is.
The older I get the more I realize how little I control. I pretend where I sit in the room can affect the football game, but the Detroit Lions still haven’t played in a Super Bowl. I act like ranting on YouTube will result in more thoughtful action films being made, and yet Michael Bay continues to be in charge of the Transformers franchise. And I delude myself into believing that after 18 years of telling my son to turn off lights before he leaves a room that it will finally sink in, only to return to a home with so many lights left on he might as well work for Motel 6. (Tom Bodett? Anyone?)
My point being, for us finite humans, true control isn’t often within our grasp.
It’s one of the reason the Serenity Prayer is so powerful.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know that 99.9% of things fall into that first category”
Isn’t that how it goes? (It should)
It’s also one of the reasons I love the last few chapters of Job. I know some see this book as a story about being faithful through trials and God’s eventual reward. But I think the point is much more challenging. After all the nastiness that Job went through, when God finally speaks in chapter 38, He doesn’t say, “I was testing you”, He doesn’t say, “I was refining you”, He doesn’t even say, “Everything’s going to be ok”. He literally says “Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about?” immediately followed by 3 full chapters of him putting Job in his place with pointed rhetorical questions bordering on all out sarcasm. His message to Job isn’t, “here’s your reason”, or “good times are coming” it’s “Who are you and Who am I?” and “unless you’ve created a universe lately, well, deal with it.” (paraphrasing here, but not by much)
He’s flat out telling us, we aren’t at the controls.
But here’s the thing, He is.
And isn’t that the beauty of faith and following?
Because we have such little control, and because He has so much, our relationship with Him has practical everyday value. He doesn’t just send us from behind or call us from the distance, He leads us in each moment. Whether it’s the disasters or the triumphs, we walk through them both confidently not because we understand the “why”, but because we understand the “Who”.
So next time you catch yourself pretending like you actually have the final say in what happens in your life, pushing fake buttons, flipping fake switches, and grasping on to the illusion of control; take a breath, read the end of Job, and remember there is one who not only controls it all but also loves you desperately.
… and I’m pretty sure it’s not Gary Sinise.
Studio DNA & CMB Gold Member