Before our schedules became too busy for family trips in the summertime, we used to take an annual trip to a high-rise condo at the beach. We were usually on the 4th floor, so this presented the opportunity for our suburban kids to do something they rarely got to do…ride in an elevator. (Side note: our youngest son even composed a song about this modern conveyance between floors entitled “Party in the Elevator.” Years later, we still sing the tune, as long as there are no strangers riding in the elevator with us.)
If you know anything about little kids, you know that there are many activities which adults find commonplace and boring, but kids love to do. For instance, kids can spend a full recess period spinning in circles until they fall down, dizzy and laughing. They also enjoy blowing bubbles in their drinks through their straws, and they like to crumble their crackers or chips until they’ve pulverized their food into a fine dust. And if you start playing “peek-a-boo” with a toddler, you better cancel all your plans for later, because they will really dial into that game! These activities are the kid equivalent of a night out on the town with friends or a binge-watching a great series on Netflix. So. Much. Fun.
Another very popular pasttime amongst most kids is pushing buttons, which is why the elevator rides at the beach condo were equal parts vacation highlight and also opportunity to squabble with siblings. “She pushed it last time! It’s my turn to push the number 4!” If we heard this whiny refrain once, we heard it a thousand times. Getting to push the elevator button was the ultimate reward for them. But to me, it was no big deal.
If I attempt to put myself in the place of my button-pushing kids (By the way, these buttons were being pushed both physically and emotionally. Can I get an amen from the parents who’ve vacationed with small children before?), I can understand the desire to be the elevator-button-pusher. Maybe they wanted to do something which seemed like a grown-up job. Or maybe they were looking for a way to stand out from their siblings at that moment. Or perhaps our kids were just tired of having everyone tell them where to go and what to do when they got there, and they thought they’d like to be the one in control, even if for just a second.
The feelings associated with being the person in control can dominate us. Thinking we have too much power or too little power can affect our relationships with others and the decisions we make. These feelings can make us arrogant or resentful. I’ve been reading through the Bible, and when I finished the book of Genesis, I couldn’t help but notice all the times when people tried to control what God had already said would happen.
For example, instead of trusting Him to give her a son, Sarah told her husband Abraham to sleep with her servant to produce an heir. Instead of trusting that God would make Jacob ruler over Esau, their mother Rebekah helped Jacob trick his father into giving him the blessing. Over and over, we see real people getting a definitive word from God that something would happen, but they put their own flawed plan into action instead.
I often have to check myself in regards to controlling what happens around me. I have to remind myself that I’m not pushing all the buttons, and that’s actually a really good thing. My own flawed, not-prayed-about plans could end up making me and those around me miserable.
Midway through reading the book of Genesis, the chronological reading plan I’m using had me spend some time in the book of Job. Chapters 38-41 are a great place to read if you’re feeling like you think you can run this universe better than God. He speaks to Job in a way that is humbling and beautifully sarcastic. The Lord asks Job a question that I’d rather not have the Creator say to me from a mighty whirlwind He’s made for just such an occasion, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? Or will you yield? Do you—God’s critic—have the answers?” So I’m working to yield control to the Almighty who laid the foundations of the earth and set the boundaries for the seas. He can run this show so much better than me.