Who’s Really in Control?

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

From “Invictus” by William Henley

Many people will agree with the above quote from a famous poem, especially in this day and age.

This is especially true in the United States, as Americans tend to guard our freedom and autonomy fiercely. Most of us grew up learning to place high value on these concepts.

But is it true that we are actually masters of our own fate?

I would propose that to a certain degree we are. We make many choices each day about mundane things in our lives—what clothes to wear, what to eat for lunch, whether to read or watch TV. The list could go on and on.

However, I believe the major facets of our lives are different. Do we really determine our course in life, or is God the Master who’s in control? 

The Bible gives us a pretty clear answer:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Proverbs 19:21

God’s will trumps all, even when it comes to kings and leaders:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.

Proverbs 21:1

It’s pretty easy to see even from just these two examples (and there are many more to be found in scripture) that nothing happens that God doesn’t allow. Everything fits into His divine plan. 

So, as great and noble as Mr. Henley’s verses ring in his poem, he is not altogether correct in his assumption. Certainly, we cannot say we are “the captain of my soul.”

This may be true to some small extent, but the entirety of our souls is a whole other matter. 

We ARE the determinant of where we spend eternity, as that depends on whether we’ve chosen to accept Christ as our Savior.

However, even making that choice is dependent on God opening up our hearts and willing us to come to Him (1 Corinthians 1:9).

As Americans, we may not like to think that we don’t have complete control of our destiny, but I don’t believe we can objectively read the Bible and conclude that we are. 

God is firmly in control, not only of our destiny, but that of our nation and our world. Even in the craziness that our world is facing at the moment, He still sits on the throne. 

Remember, nothing that is happening today, or will happen in the future, comes as a surprise to God. He foresaw every act by every human long before Adam and Eve were ever placed in the Garden of Eden.

So, it should actually be a relief to us that we are not masters of our fate, because surely we would mess things up.

The often-poor choices we make on a daily basis should show us well enough that we’re not capable of completely handling our own destiny. 

Thank God that He’s in control and that nothing happens apart from His will. I know that makes me feel better. 

Even the evil in this world He allows so that His ultimate purposes will be fulfilled. Those purposes I know are for the best, for

we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

So, don’t worry about having it all together every day. Be thankful that God is in control and you aren’t. Things will definitely work out better that way.

Trust God and Let It Go

For far too long I have over-analyzed all the negative circumstances in my life, meaning I’ve tried to categorize them and make them fit into neat little boxes. 

For example, if the car breaks down, I might dwell on where this mishap originated from. 

Was it my fault, because I hadn’t kept up with the maintenance on the car? It’s just common sense that a neglected car will eventually give out, right?

Or was the breakdown the work of Satan, our adversary? Did he cause the mechanical failure out of spite, because he hates Christians and will do anything he can to cause them problems and try to get them to doubt God.

Or did God himself create the malfunction as a means of testing me, trying to stretch and grow my patience during times of trial?

Trying to figure out such things can be quite frustrating and even maddening.

Back and forth my mind will go, first blaming God and His way of sending trials into our lives to help us grow. Then I’ll shift the blame to myself because I wasn’t proactive enough in taking care of the car. Next, my frustration will gravitate toward our enemy, because surely everything bad in life comes from him, right?

Then, one day a novel thought popped into my mind when I was in  the middle of one of “analysis sessions.”


The source of the trial doesn’t matter because God is in control over everything. No matter where this situation came from, it is only in my life because God has allowed it to be there. 

He has some divine purpose that will ultimately work out for my good, as Romans 8:28 tells us.

It’s simply a matter of trusting Him and His will for my life.

Besides, the universe is complex and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8). Most likely, it’s not as simple as categorizing any particular event as “from God” or “from Satan.” 

Everything that happens in our lives has a purpose, and we can never begin to understand God’s ways.

So there…When something unexpected, or negative, or just plain undesirable happens in life, don’t try to figure it out. Just trust that God is at the helm and has everything under control.