“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
An illusion that pervades our lives is that we in fact DO have control on what happens in life. We think that we are in a better position than others to control what happens because we have more and better choices in our lives, much more than most people in the world have. In life we have choices regarding our political freedom, our health, our diet, our artistic expression, our education and so on. We also have other less significant choices, millions of them, from which we can select, like soda, canned foods, variety of fashions, soaps and the list goes on. With all these choices available for us we feel that we can also choose our future.
Until something happens that will make our sense of control to disappear: the death of a loved one, or someone close to us, or some famous person. We start to panic, we get into a frenzy, confusion takes over in our lives.
Do we still think that we are in control when our life is repeatedly hit by tragedy? Do we still think that we are in control when we experience that life is not fair? How can we? We are not in control. Control over life is simply an illusion, a myth. And we live by that myth, but it is only just that: a myth.
When we feel insecure in our lives and when we realize that we could not control it, we turn to God, not to lay these burdens before Him and let Him take control of them, but to somehow try to make God do whatever suits us. We try to control God with the pretense of asking for his help. “Lord, change my wife because she is becoming impossible.” “Lord God, make me win the lottery and I will make a considerable donation to the church.” “Dear Lord, may whoever stole my wallet spend its money in medication!” We are simply trying to manipulate God to do whatever suits and pleases us.
Why do we pray in this way instead of praying: “Your will be done? It is very simple. When we say to God: “Your will be done,” we are taking a risk. We will be binding ourselves to let God be in control of our lives and accept His control. And let us face it, our human nature pushes us to take control whereas if God is in control we will be losing control on ourselves and others.
Because besides trying to control our life and God we try to control others, sometimes we will be obvious about it and other times very subtle. Wives try to control husbands and vice versa; adults try to control children and even children many-a-time try to control adults.
Our attempt to control others is a sign of our human desire to control God, and it does not work for long. Sooner or later the others start to ignore us, and our suppressed feelings will cause disorder in our emotions.
In God’s plan we are not expected to change others as it suits us, but rather help them to be who they are created to be. This means that we are to recognize that the other person is a unique creation and help him or her to develop as a whole person. It means that we help the other person to live out fully the goodness and talents he or she possesses.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus himself tried to bargain for control. He was praying and hoping that he would not die. Wouldn’t we do the same? Like each one of us, He yearned to change the story, to give it a different ending, to control the people around Him in order to save Himself. But at the same time He realized that God’s will was different than His, and cried to the Father: “… not my will but Your’s be done.”
On the cross Jesus was fully human. His last words on the cross show this humanity. He struggled to forgive his enemies, He showed concern towards his Mother, his close apostle and the repentant thief. He experienced loneliness and He also felt thirsty. He battled to live and finally with all simplicity but at the same time in a moment of greatness, He let go: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
What Jesus did is what each one of us should do: we should give our whole being into God’s hands, He who gave us our life and all.
Let us turn our eyes on Jesus. He left his destiny in the hands of the One who promises to love us eternally and unconditionally. God loves us beyond our understanding and even without us deserving it. He is in control and we should be grateful for that. Today with Jesus let us pray: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And let us make this our raison d’être.