On May 21st, I became a father. My daughter, Madeline, was born weighing a mere six pounds and three ounces. She is a tiny human being. Her hands are shorter than my thumbs. My hand is as long as her torso. When I carry her, I can tuck her into one arm like a football. She can’t defend herself. She can’t feed herself. She can’t even hold her own head up. When she gets hiccups she sounds like a chipmunk. She is completely helpless without my wife and me (mostly my wife). She controls nothing of her own life.
Madeline depends upon us for survival but I’ve also learned that my wife and I aren’t in control either—and it is terrifying. We can try to feed her on schedule, rock her to sleep, and give her vitamins and vaccines but none of that guarantees her safety or survival. None of that keeps her tiny heart beating and lungs pumping. Yes, her survival is dependent upon us in many ways, but in many ways it also isn’t.
I don’t have control and I know it, yet I still try to grasp for it. I freak out about every little sound Madeline makes while she sleeps. I always wonder if I’ve poked her soft spot too hard. I’ve never been much a of a germ-a-phobe but no one is coming near my daughter without having an acid-scrub bath. All of it is a futile attempt to bring about a desired outcome.
This isn’t the first time I’ve longed to be in control, and to my wife’s chagrin, it probably won’t be the last.
Why is it so hard for me to be out of control? I think it’s because there is something in me that would rather succeed (or fail) on the basis of my own efforts (That something is pride, if you were wondering). This is why I have a hard time accepting grace— or God’s sovereignty. I want control and I want say in the matter. The laughable thing is that it really is a denial of reality. I’m like a man locked in a mental institute who thinks he’s Napoleon Bonaparte, commanding my troops to honor and glory from within the padded white walls.
It takes a truly delusional person to think they can actually influence every aspect of their life.
The truth is, I can barely control myself, let alone a city (a state, a country, a world, etc.) full of autonomous human beings who are also trying to control themselves and everyone around them. Don’t forget about the weather.
I definitely don’t have this figured out yet, but I do know this: we don’t need to be afraid. In fact, the most common command in the Bible is, “Do not fear.” Although we don’t live in a world ruled by Kyle Hatfield (a hard to accept but probably comforting thought), we also don’t live in a world ruled by chance and cruel indifference to suffering. This is God’s world and He’s got a plan worked out. It’s a plan that’s far greater than anything my puny brain could cook up.
We’re like my daughter, a helpless baby, too small and too fragile for this world. We also have a Father who is watching over us. But this Father is in complete control—and He loves you.
So for now, I can rest from my worry and hold my daughter as her little heart beats.