This morning Jo Jo, our three-year-old, came into our bedroom with a little stack of LEGOs. Proudly announcing that this was his “channel changer,” he pointed it at the TV and began pressing it with his thumb. Intending to play along, I grabbed the real TV remote and began turning the TV on and off each time he pressed his toy remote. My wife looked over, smiled, and said to me, “You’re such a fun dad!”
Alas, it was fun until I explained to Jo Jo that his “channel changer” didn’t really control the TV; that I had been controlling it with the real “channel changer.” He got mildly frustrated with me and decided to hide my remote behind the curtain so he could be sure I wasn’t repeating the trick. Then he stood in front of the TV for several minutes pressing his LEGO remote. When it didn’t work he asked me to fix his remote so that it would work again. I explained the impossibility of that to him, then stepped out of the room for a minute. Moments later, I heard the TV come on, so I knew he had now begun using the real remote and finding that it worked.
When I came back in the room, a disappointed little boy brought me his LEGO remote and said, “Daddy, I don’t want this channel changer any more. It’s broken!”
I’ve learned my lesson. It is apparently unwise ever to play games with another man’s TV remote! Some things are just too close to our hearts.
As funny as this little scenario is, Jo Jo’s disappointment at not really being in control was real. It made me wonder how many times this same scenario is played out between us grownups and our heavenly Father.
The older I get, the more I come to realize how little in life I really have control over. Most of us tackle life with the expectation that if we work hard, use our talents, and behave responsibly we can be healthy, wealthy, wise, and happy. Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that all our plans can easily be derailed by an unexpected illness, an accident, the foolish decisions and evil actions of other people, economic forces beyond our control, changes in the weather, and those huge natural disasters we usually describe as “acts of God.” How many of our personal triumphs and crowning achievements really amount to us benefitting from the gracious hand of God in ordering those circumstances we cannot control?
It is as if we’re pressing the buttons on our LEGO remotes while God stands behind us pressing the buttons on His real one. When we see the TV come on we think, “Look what I did!” We don’t realize that God is the one who is really in control, and that we should be expressing our gratitude to Him. The American revolutionaries who managed to defeat the most powerful nation on earth often spoke of the gracious hand of Divine Providence in fighting on their behalf, and when you consider how many of their victories depended on favorable weather and historical accidents it is easy to see why. Somehow when we face less overwhelming obstacles we find it easy to forget the hand of Providence and assume our LEGO remotes are working.
Proverbs 16:9 reminds us who is really in control:
A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.
We do well to remember that His “channel changer” is the only one that works.