Living Columns & Blogs

Take comfort in knowing that God is in control

Winter seems to be trying to hang on like a pesky cough. What can you say? The earth seems to have a mind of its own these days. Those of us old enough to remember the blizzard of March 1993 — the Storm of the Century — may not be too perturbed. We lived through a Category 5 cyclonic monster that dumped 24 inches on us in Carlisle. Still, we fared better than many places in the Appalachians that saw around five feet of snow.

We’ve also seen spring stymied from time to time. We can remember summers that seemingly burst forth in late May after months of up and down weather patterns. But we’ve also seen an early spring that made March into a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. So said King Solomon. In Ecclesiastes, chapter 1, we read: "History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new." Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now. (New Living Translation)

I once spoke with a famous guitar player who shocked me by saying: “Gene, nobody creates any new licks. We’re mostly re-working something that has already been played before — just putting our own twist on it!” I was speechless. I’d heard this fellow play and I would have put down good money that nobody had ever played some of the stuff I heard him bring out of his guitar!

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can find some comfort from the idea that God reigns and rules over this earth. What we are seeing has been seen before — maybe in a slightly different form. God is indeed sovereign. That is to say, He will, at the end of time, have the final Word. His plans cannot be thwarted forever.

In the meantime, we Wesleyans struggle, both individually and theologically with this brutal reality called “free will.” I call it brutal because it would be easier to lay everything at God’s feet. Make Him the author of everything that happens. That would effectively take you and I off the hook. Our individual choices would simply be explained away as God’s will. If the world was a machine, maybe that kind of reasoning would work; however, the world is not a machine!

In fact as we prepare to buy our third dishwasher in around 18 years, I’m not too sure that machines are a good model for much of anything. My dishwashers seem to reflect the chaos that entered the world when sin came on the scene through humankind’s disobedience. And I believe that the Scriptures teach that we live in a world cursed with chaos. That doesn’t make me comfortable; but, it does explain the decisions that all of make that in retrospect really don’t make sense and can, in fact, be self-destructive.

If God is in control, doesn’t it make sense to try and listen to Him speaking to us, guiding us through the chaos and toward all that He wants to provide for us?

The Rev. Gene McCallips is the pastor at Fairbrook United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania Furnace. He can be reached at