Cardinal rule number one: never turn your back on a class of fifteen year olds. Cardinal rule number two: never put the remote control to the video player down! Both rules broken by me in the space of two minutes. Just for a moment I thought that the video player was broken. The tape went in as usual. It was supposed to be an awe inspiring tape about the life of Oscar Romero, designed to provoke passion about fighting for justice. But we never found that out because after two minutes, everything stopped. I pressed the eject button, examined the tape, gave it a mild shake and replaced it. A quick glance at the leads spewing out of the back of the machine assured me that there was nothing amiss in that department. We got to watch another two minutes of the opening credits, and it stopped again. Understanding was creeping in. Control of the machine, did not, remotely or otherwise, belong to me. One of the pupils had the remote control. What to do next? Every fibre of my being demanded a tantrum. Maybe it would be unseemly of me to lie on the floor, kicking my heels and thumping my fists ineffectively, against the mob that held my video player to ransom. It had been a hard week and although I was no camel, this was the last straw, and something was about to break. Enter God’s Holy Spirit front stage left! I knew that they knew that I knew they had the remote control. The next few moments were to dictate the climate of the room for the next forty minutes.
“OK,” the tone was light, not dangerous, almost playful if you will. “Whoever has the remote control, could you please press the play button, so we can continue with the lesson?” The programme began to play, and even if Oscar Romero failed to provoke passion about justice in any mind in that room that afternoon, a minor victory somewhere had been achieved.
Don’t you just hate losing control? Don’t you just hate that feeling of helplessness that there is nothing you can do? When I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, it was like I had handed Him the remote control. (Except there is nothing remotely remote about it.) I gave Him permission to dictate the way my life was to be lived from then on. Dictate is perhaps the wrong word as Jesus is no dictator. In fact, He holds His control of my life so lightly in His hand that should I demand control back, He allows it. My free will is totally respected. Not all decisions I make as foolish ones. I can be trusted to make good decisions. Making my own decisions will not inevitably lead me down a slippery slope leading to the bottom of a barrel. But very often the decisions I make are not always the best ones. When I decided that day to listen to the prompting of the Spirit, and follow His direction and play the game His way – the only control that was lost that afternoon was the remote control to the video. My control of the class, ever precarious, and the control of myself, exceedingly fragile that day, remained intact.