Sunday, November 25, 2018

God Is in Control Even When Life Feels Sketchy—Or Etch-a-Sketchy

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I was working on a book in a wild fury. My fingers had been flying across the keyboard for the better part of an afternoon. I was in the zone, man. The. Zone. Which was great since the deadline was inching nearer. I say inching. More like barreling. Like a locomotive.

If we’ve met, you know that procrastination is how I roll. Or inch. Or loco…mote? Heavy on the loco. I lean into that panic-driven rush of adrenaline. I’m pretty sure I do my best writing when I’m just this side of hyperventilation.

I’d ignored the fact that my computer was misbehaving for days. As I was rounding the bend on Chapter 21, my computer…well, it derailed. I lost the entire afternoon’s work. There was no auto-backup. No recovery options. Gone. All that adrenaline, down the drain! The barreling train of a deadline hadn’t slowed in the least and I felt like I’d been run over by The Little Engine That Couldn’t. I started thinking it might’ve been just as effective to type the thing on an Etch-a-Sketch.

There was no way to replace what I’d written. It’s not even that the details I’d typed were sketchy. They were completely gone from my head. For me, once words are out of my brain, they track down the arms, through the fingers, then roll into the computer. It’s pretty much a one-way track. Just trying to remember little tidbits of the book parts I’d lost, I was working myself into a good cry and a whole new level of hyperventilation.

Those times of tears and hyperventilation have a distinctive way of snapping me around to the most basic reality: God is in control. He wasn’t freaking out about the chapters I’d lost. He was not panicking, wondering how to bring about any ministry from that book. He never distressed with an “Oh no! I never saw that coming!”

He is in control. I can rest in Him. I can rest when I’m in the midst of a train wreck, and just as enthusiastically when life is clicking along on the smoothest tracks. Even when I’m in “the zone.”  

In Isaiah 46:10, He says, “I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying, My plan will take place, and I will do all My will,” (HCSB). Beginning, end, and everything in between, He’s already written the story. Every chapter.

The psalmist speaks of “the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples,” (Psalm 65:6-7, ESV). A paraphrase of His name here is “Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer, Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash” (MSG).

The God who can muzzle the wave crash is certainly not undone by a computer crash. He is the sovereign, all-powerful One. The Most High. He is the Redeemer. To say He’s more powerful than a locomotive is the ultimate in understatement. He’s just...MORE. 

As you might guess, He was more than powerful enough to redeem the chapters I lost. I even liked the new ones better. But even if the chapters had been forever gone, I trust Him enough for whatever that would’ve meant too.

I’m shooting for less hyperventilating altogether. More faithfully trusting in my mighty God. 

For the record, these days I also try to remember to save my manuscripts a bit more faithfully. That means if I type it on an Etch-a-Sketch, I’ll be sure to back it up on my Magna-Doodle. 


Rhonda Rhea is a humor columnist for lots of great magazines, including HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and more. She is the author of 10 nonfiction books, including How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take to Change a Person? and coauthors fiction with her daughter, Kaley Faith Rhea. She and her daughters host the TV show, That’s My Mom, for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ. Rhonda enjoys traveling the country speaking at all kinds of conferences and events. She and her pastor/hubs have five grown children and live in the St. Louis area.


  1. We will crash. You've reminded us of the way of recovery. Thanks.

  2. Amen Ms. Rhonda. I'm convinced that "crashes" occur because whatever I was writing wasn't worth reading. More often than not, it causes me to stop and pray about it. God always seems to give better material than when we try to do things in our own strength. Not sure why I keep having to learn that lesson over and over it seems. Perhaps God does have that wonderful sense of humor. I sometimes sense Him smiling down on me, trying to stifle a quiet laugh, then he pats me on the head and moves me in the right direction. God's blessings ma'am. Am sure glad to know we're not always on this journey alone.

  3. It really is rather comforting to have crash-buddies, lol. Thanks, Jim!

  4. This is perfect . . . "That means if I type it on an Etch-a-Sketch, I’ll be sure to back it up on my Magna-Doodle."

    Thanks so much for this post!! I have a book releasing in Feb., a deadline in Feb., and another in April! YIKES!!! Better start charging up that Etch-a-Sketch!