The Great Illusion

Last Sunday, I had the great pleasure of hearing one of my favorite pastors, Pete Wilson speak at a local church in Houston. His sermon was based in part on his new book Plan B: What to do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would, which, if it means anything, has my absolute ringing endorsement. I even had an opportunity to chat with him briefly and get him to sign my copy of his book. Come to think of it, he still has my purple pen. Dang it.

Anyhow, I’m about halfway through the book, and while there is much that is underlined and highlighted, I think the following passage convicted me more than any other:

“Every one of us must make a very important decision and this decision will have huge implications on how we process life. We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is

If you place your faith in what God does, you’d better prepare yourself for frustration and disappointment because you’re never going to figure out God’s ways this side of heaven. That’s because God is God! As he told the prophet Isaiah…

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are my ways higher than your ways

And my thoughts higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)”

I MUST stop thinking of God as some sort of cosmic vending machine ready and waiting to lavish me with blessings because I’m trying to live a life obedient to Him, or withhold blessings because I’ve made a mess of things. YES, I desire to live a life obedient to Him, but not in order to receive something back. I want to live a life obedient to Him because I desire to obey the greatest commandment: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37a)

What prevents me from living my life that way? It’s something Pete calls the greatest illusion of all:

The illusion of control.

This illusion is deceptive. When things in life seem to be going smoothly, we can begin to believe that we’re actually in control of the people and circumstances around us. It is usually only when things go wrong and we try to regain our footing that we realize that we were never in control in the first place. I have a good friend who is what I would consider a control freak. I once asked her, “Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?” Her reply to me was, “What’s the difference?” I laughed at her response, but I must admit there have been times in my life when I equated what I wanted (being right) to being happy. The great irony of this predicament is that intellectually, I know that peace will only come with surrender. It’s just getting my heart there as well.

“Not my will but Yours be done.”

How about you? Do you ever fall into the illusion of control?

This post is part of the blog carnival on Ego, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read more, please visit her site.

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24 Responses to “The Great Illusion”

  1. Jason July 27, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    Oh yeah…I’ve fallen into it many times. Pete’s book kicked me square in the wedding tackle with each chapter.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..TPWC Day 25- Hookers and harlots and whores- oh my! =-.

    • katdish July 27, 2010 at 12:17 am #

      The wedding tackle? HA! I thought I’d heard them all!

    • michael July 27, 2010 at 10:25 am #

      I just blushed.
      .-= michael´s last blog ..Camping Inside =-.

  2. Bridget July 27, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    Control is my middle name. Sad, but true. Great post, Kathy. Sounds like a book I need to read as well.
    .-= Bridget´s last blog ..Ego Blog Carnival =-.

  3. Glynn July 27, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    We learn — all the time — that it’s about Him, not about us. It’s a lesson He keeps teaching for a lifetime. Great post, Kathy (and the cost of a purple pen was worth it).

  4. Scott Couchenour July 27, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    “We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is.”

    Wow, I needed to read this post and that quote in particular. I’m so in love with me sometimes that I am lulled into the belief that He exists for me.
    .-= Scott Couchenour´s last blog ..look at E go =-.

  5. Cassandra Frear July 27, 2010 at 7:17 am #

    The last two years, and to a lesser extent the ten before it, completely stripped the illusion of control away. I simply don’t understand what God is doing in our lives. It doesn’t make sense to me. At all. But I know he is with us.

    I follow God because He is indescribably wonderful, holy, wise, loving, powerful, worthy of my utter devotion. I’m head over heels in love with him, with all that he is. I’m built for relationship with him — more than anything else. He is my true home, my sanctuary.

    There is a reason why Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Then he told stories.
    .-= Cassandra Frear´s last blog ..Coontree Mountain =-.

  6. Jeremy July 27, 2010 at 8:11 am #


    Thanks for the great post. Have truly enjoyed Plan B. Well worth the read.

    • katdish July 27, 2010 at 8:29 am #

      Hey Jeremy! Thanks for visiting. Tell Julie & the kiddos I said hey.

  7. Candy July 27, 2010 at 8:25 am #

    The statement that won’t leave my head is “We must decide if we are going to put our faith in what God does or in who God is.” The only thing I have control over is acknowledging that He is in control. Yes, an alarming illusion it is.

    But I thought sure you were going to say that the illusion was that Pete is not shorter than Jon Acuff. I just never know when deepdish katdish is going to appear. And I hope you get your pen back.
    .-= Candy´s last blog ..Mary’s Hankies =-.

    • katdish July 27, 2010 at 8:29 am #

      I can’t believe you went there. Oh, who am I kidding? Not at all surprised you went there.

  8. Heather of the EO July 27, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    I may or may not mean what I’m about to type.

    I love being out of control. (as in, giving control to God.)

    I never dreamed I would, and isn’t that just some strange form of insanity, to fight it when it’s so beautiful?

    And this is not because good things are happening in my life so well, OF COURSE I love it when God’s in control, or I think it’s some sort of reward system or something. NO, it’s about peace that follows face-to-the-floor surrender.

    The End. 🙂
    .-= Heather of the EO´s last blog ..helping- a picture story =-.

  9. Annie K July 27, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    I’m a total control freak (hate that) and It’s a daily choice really to work on not being that way. Well, actually allowing God to change that about me.

    And Pete’s going to be convicted of taking the purple pen. Totally.
    .-= Annie K´s last blog ..I Live in The Craziest Place on Earth- What Happens When You Euthanize a Few Annoying Geese =-.

  10. Kelly@tabithas-team July 27, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    I absolutely loved Plan B! This is a great summary.
    .-= Kelly@tabithas-team´s last blog ..Mommy-Ego =-.

  11. michael July 27, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    I MUST stop thinking of God as some sort of cosmic vending machine…

    That is an amazing quote. Does He want to bless us? I believe so. Does it always come the way we think or want? Absolutely not.

    Love this post Kathy.
    .-= michael´s last blog ..Camping Inside =-.

  12. A Simple Country Girl July 27, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    I think we all go there. Seeing the crisp line rather than the blurry is an ongoing challenge indeed.

    That book quote–I was on the same soul-saving train yesterday after my morning devotions. I was left with this nugget as I chugged throughout my day, “God does not want us to have a faith dependent upon our circumstances.” And today’s reading for me was about not praying big enough, asking for a cupful, when God holds the ocean. Do you think our earthly brains have the capacity to fully understand His sovereignty?

    .-= A Simple Country Girl´s last blog ..Baptism and Faith =-.

  13. Jeff July 27, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    That’s awesome. I always struggle when people say that things could have gone really badly, but God is good, so they didn’t. He would have been good whether you got what you wanted or not.
    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..dropping off the face of the earth =-.

  14. jasonS July 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    Control is fine until you run into what you can’t control (which is often). At that point, we either drop the illusion or run away and hide. All that running and finding new places to hide will wear you out quickly…

    Great thoughts. Thanks Kat.
    .-= jasonS´s last blog ..The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Ego =-.

  15. Marni July 27, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Jason, I am so stealing “wedding tackle”. Snort!

    I’m not done reading Plan B yet, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone more than two pages without highlighting something. God is really speaking to me through Pete’s book.

  16. Helen July 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Do I ever! Even I realize I have a hard time letting go.
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..The Pendulum of Self Importance =-.

  17. Jay Cookingham July 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Awesome thoughts Kat…“Not my will but Yours be done.” I think are the bravest words we could ever speak…

    .-= Jay Cookingham´s last blog ..Bad Sheep Time – Bruised EGO =-.

  18. Louise July 28, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    This is a great post Kat — and I so appreciate that quote!
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Ego Bursts =-.

  19. Pete Wilson July 28, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    It was great to see you Sunday. So glad you’re enjoying the book!!

  20. n. davis rosback, nAncY July 31, 2010 at 11:02 pm #

    i like purple pens too.
    but not gloppy ones.
    .-= n. davis rosback, nAncY´s last blog ..saturday stuff =-.

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