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Whitney Johns: Illusion of Control

SpiritualitySan Diego, CA – I recently read a CNN article titled: Illusion of Control: Why the world is full of elevator buttons that don’t work. Go ahead and read it if you want; it’s pretty interesting. If you’re lazy like me and want to skip the reading, just read that title one more time…

This article was not published on DesiringGod.com or TheGospelCoalition.com This article was published on a mainstream secular website, yet it’s themes ring true to those of the bible. Proof that all of our problems on this earth and in our own hearts can be traced back to one thing – sin & brokenness.


The article explains how there are many buttons (elevator buttons, crosswalk buttons, and even office thermostats) that are simply made to not work.

It states that these buttons are “sometimes called placebo buttons — buttons that are mechanically sound and can be pushed, but provide no functionality.”

Sure, this is crazy! But here’s the whoa this is deep part.

The article says, “They do have a psychological effect. Taking some action leads people to feel a sense of control over a situation, and that feels good, rather than just being a passive bystander.

“Doing something typically feels better than doing nothing.”

Do you long to be in control? Do you long for everything to go according to your timeline? Are you tirelessly trying to make everything fit into your life plan? And how does that work out for you?

In the Old Testament, we read examples of people who wanted to follow God, but they ended up making idols for themselves. In one story, a man named Moses is leading a large group of people, God’s chosen people, to a new land to live in. Moses tells his people that he is going up onto a mountain to meet with God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, for direction and instruction. Moses ends up being gone for a while, and when he returns, he finds the people worshiping and praying to a golden calf that they created for themselves.

The people felt out of control; they felt anxious. Moses was taking too long. They had to take action. “Taking some action leads people to feel a sense of control over a situation, and that feels good.”

They needed to feel some sense of control. And their action was to create a “god” for themselves.

Friends, I ask you gently today: Do you feel this subtle desire to be in control of your life? Do you feel anxious waiting on God? Do you believe the lie that you can be a better god for yourself? That you have a better plan? A better timeline?

Have you created a god of Control for yourself?

Pushing those fake elevator or crosswalk buttons might make us feel good, but in reality, they do nothing. We still have to wait. We are not in control.

Attempting to be in control of our own lives or our own situations might make us feel less anxious, but in reality, it does nothing. We still have to wait. We are not in control.

The good news is that we do have a kind and perfect Creator who is in control. He is good, and he is all-knowing. He is FOR his own glory and FOR your ultimate good. He knows the number of hairs on your head; he knew you in your mother’s womb. He holds the universe together, and he sure as heck can handle whatever circumstance you are going through.

If anyone needs to remember this truth… Friends, it is me! If you resonate with this, let’s go to God and ask for forgiveness of our desire for control. Confess to God that He alone is in control, and you are not. Ask God to help you to trust him. Ask him to help you wait on him. Ask him to give you peace.

Stop hitting those fake elevator buttons of your life when you know that in reality, they aren’t really helping. Take heart in the fact that you don’t have to hold your world together – God already does!

Whitney Johns
Whitney Johns
Whitney (Robertson) Johns is a Clarksville native who now resides in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband, J.J. Johns. Whitney is a recent graduate from Tennessee Tech University, where was a student-athlete, competing for four successful years on the women’s golf team. While at Tennessee Tech, Whitney became involved in a campus ministry called Campus Outreach, where she learned the reality of the gospel and she grew to love and follow The Lord. Many of her writings involve real-life examples of how to practically apply truths of the bible to our everyday lives, something she and her husband are very passionate about sharing with others.

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