What I've Learned from Deacon Stephen Muse

“We never get to God through control.”

This was one of the most memorable and helpful lines Deacon Stephen Muse has ever shared with me. It’s helpful because I am perpetually tempted to seek control.

This is a very old problem. Power and control have been our siren song since the Garden of Eden. Even in modern times, great literature has been written around this enduring theme of human experience.

Worldly wisdom recognizes that our influence is limited. I’ve seen diagrams of concentric circles illustrating the various degrees of control or influence we have. I’ve heard corporate mantras like “control the controllables.” And all that makes sense from a worldly perspective.

But, the language of stewardship is so much truer. After all, if the Almighty God who created heaven and earth has given us dominion or stewardship over the earth and over various aspects of our lives, He can also take this away from us whenever He wills. That might happen through an accident or an unexpected illness or some other thing that is…totally beyond our control. We should hold any power or control that God has given us with open hands — both to be good stewards of it, and to offer it continually up to God, who may take it back at any time.

He will eventually take it back. Even the power to breathe and our control over our bodies. Dn. Stephen recently reminded us that even our very being is on loan to us. Blessed are we if we can realize this before the end of our earthly lives. Blessed are we if in realizing this we are filled with holy humility before God as we acknowledge our abject helplessness and powerlessness as frail, mortal, human beings.

“We never get to God through control.”

Rather, He gets to us when we realize that we ultimately have none.

-Fr. Paul Lundberg