I have to confess: I want to be God of my life. And based on my interaction with every man and woman I have ever met, I think you want to be God of your life as well.
What do I mean? We want a level of control over our lives that only God has. We want to be the authority over our life. We want my way to win out. We want others to submit to our plans. Our daily desire, if we are honest with ourselves, is to be God of our own lives.
The Temptation of a Cookie
Consider the two-year-old. Place a warm plate of cookies on the counter, tell the child these are for guests later and to definitely not eat them. Then leave the room and let the butter and vanilla-infused aroma waft over the child. What will happen?
A battle will take place within the child as she lives out her desire to be in control of her life. Whether she gives in to eating the cookies or refrains is not the point. The child experiences a battle of wills: my mother’s desire for obedience versus my desire for the cookies. The child’s natural instinct is to do what the child thinks is best for her. To be her own authority. To be God of her life.
Yet this isn’t true for only children. This is an all too true picture in our home, but sadly it’s not the children disobeying, it’s me. Consider the 37-year-old. Same situation. My wife tells me these cookies are for our dinner party later. She leaves to get groceries. What do I do?
I’m a glutton for cookies and I often declare by the plate-full, I am God of my life and no one can tell me I can’t enjoy these cookies. I am in control of my life and can eat as many warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies as I want without any consequences. Consequences? The last hole on my belt clinging for dear life laughs at that sentence. And my wife when she returns from getting groceries to an empty plate, certainly the opposite of laughter.
Dangerous Ways We Play God
Have I gone too far to say these desires for control over our lives are actually a want to be God? I don’t think so.
The fundamental human problem is that we want to be God. We want the control that only God can claim. We want to direct our lives as to how we see fit. We want things to go our way because we believe that only we know what is best for our lives.
However, only God can claim these realities. God alone knows how to turn the course of our life this way and that for our good and His glory. Only God has the actual power to determine what is to come. Only God is wise enough to bring about what is best for us. We fool ourselves when we think we can be God of our lives.
Satan fooled Adam and Eve in the garden. God declared His authority when He said the fruit of one tree was forbidden. Yet Adam and Eve were not content with Another’s control. They wanted to be God.
Satan told them that if they ate of the tree they would “be like God.” (Genesis 3:5). That’s the temptation that Satan went after from year one—the desire to be like God. A dangerous desire that they unfortunately exercised.
In giving in to that temptation, Adam and Eve effectively said, “I have all that I need and I can do whatever I please because I know what is best for me. No one else can order me around. No one else can declare what is right and wrong. That decision is mine.” They wanted to be God.
What happened? Sin germinated. All humanity fell. And God kicked them out of the garden, emphatically declaring “I am” God and you are not. Their ungodly desire to be God thoroughly backfired. This was a far more dangerous way of playing God than deciding I can do what I want with a plate of cookies. But the underlying want was the same: I can be God of my life.
We Make Terrible Gods
Can we agree on something? While we have a desire to be in control, we all know that we often make mistakes and, if left to our own sovereignty, would ruin our lives. We make a terrible God. Often our best choice is foolish and brings destruction. We don’t know best.
As a Pastor, I think about how many individuals come to me for counsel. It’s only years later that I get to see how God used that counsel in their lives. Usually, it’s in a way that I did not see coming, nor could not see. I cannot predict the future. I do not know what is the absolute best decision for a person. What would make me think then that I know best for me? I make a terrible God of my life.
The more we play God, the more things we wreck. Think about the Rich Young Ruler in the Gospels. Here was a man seeking eternal life, asking Jesus how to obtain it. Jesus’ response? “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). The rich ruler became sad over Jesus’ words. The point? God wanted to be his God and ruler, but he wanted to rule himself with his wealth.
We do the same thing with any number of idols in our lives. We seek to find ways of control where we get to be the authority and God of our own lives. We seek wealth so we can think we have enough stored up and all will be well with me no matter what. We seek power because we believe only in leadership can I truly be free and autonomous over my own life. We seek health fads because we believe we can determine the length of our life.
Can’t we just admit that we make a terrible God of our life?
Thankfully God is God and We Are Not
I want to be God of my life. But I’m terrible at it. You are too.
I want to be in control and do what I think is best, but so too did Adam and Eve and we all know how that went.
I want to declare what is right and wrong, but that is not my place, it is God’s alone.
God is God and we are not. We are created beings. Only God has all He needs and only God can do all He pleases. He has perfect wisdom and every decision He makes is the right one. Can we say that about us? No.
So what do we do about our ungodly desire to be God? We turn away from ourselves toward Jesus. The remedy for sinners, who need to stop being discontent over not being God, is to look to Jesus. Who else wants your absolute best and has the power to bring it about?
Jesus rescues every sinner who trusts in Him from our idolatry of self—the proclamation that I should be God of my life. Our trust in Jesus and declaration that “Jesus is Lord” is where we begin. God knows best, we don’t. Trusting in Jesus, not in ourselves, rips the want for control and divinity from our hearts. Your hope and worship in Jesus reorients your heart daily to trust in God’s will and goodness planned for you.
Start today by placing your ungodly desire at the feet of Jesus. Start by repenting over your want for control and authority. Start by joyfully knowing that God alone has that and He is perfect in how He sovereignly cares for you. Trust in Him! We shipwreck our lives when we play God. Instead, God brings about incredible mercies and plans that we would never have known.
I am saddened that my desire to be God can show itself in something as small as a plate of cookies. Yet, I am glad that God is not done with me and can even use something as trivial as a cookie to teach me, and my children, that He is God and we are not.
I want to be in control. Thankfully I am not. God is.
I want authority over my own life and those around me. Thankfully I don’t have it. God does.
I want all my desires to be met. Thankfully they are not. God accomplishes His desires.
I have an ungodly desire to be God of my life. Thankfully I am not. God is.