By Scott Box


I didn’t see the movie Fight Club when 20th Century Fox released it in 1999. It was simply an issue of having been released into theaters the same year my wife, Kariann, and I were married—We were too poor to go to the theater. I admit that I begged Kariann to make an exception for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace—and grrrrrr, I was disappointed in the movie. Anyway, I tried to watch Fight Club years later, but I didn’t have the stomach to get very far. But I do remember a scene in the movie where one of the main characters, Tyler Durden, the proprietor of the fight club in the movie, gets beat up by an Italian property owner/mob boss. This mob boss, Lou, is trying to get Durden’s fight club squatting in the basement of his building to move out. So Lou swaggers down into the dingy basement with a couple of bodyguards and proceeds to beat Durden’s face to a gross bloody pulp. Durden’s fight club members stand on the shadowy fringes of the basement in confused tension. Only the joke is on Lou. It turns out that Durden is sadistic and likes getting his face kicked in, literally because, you know, he runs the fight club, after all. In a blink, the tables turn as Durden jumps up and tackles Lou to the ground. Then, in a wild scramble on the concrete, Durden proceeds to pin Lou down, laugh hysterically and violently spit and spray blood in Lou’s face while growling, “Please let us keep it, Lou.” It becomes evident that Durden never intended to leave Lou’s basement. And he was willing to go to absurd lengths to prove his stubbornness. As you might expect, Lou reacts with complete repulsion, but he can’t escape Durden’s grasp. In absolute horror over the complete mess he’s found himself in, Lou yields instantly to Durden’s overwhelming physical and mental pressure, concedes the basement to the fight club, is pulled to his feet by a bodyguard and scurries on all fours up the stairs to safety and sanity. 

The movie scene is incredibly visceral. I was shocked at how Durden upended Lou’s supposed hierarchy and power. Most of all, it made me think of when I believed I was in control, only to realize I was out of control of infinite variables, basically every moment of every day.

This scene in Fight Club perfectly expresses and explains the dynamic relationship between crisis and control in my life and yours. In many ways, this scene serves as a perfect representation of what has happened, in one way or another, to every human who has ever lived. We are or have been any one of the characters in this scene. We have been Lou, a man who thinks he is in control, only to find out he is very much in crisis. We have been Tyler Durden, seemingly in crisis and enduring great pain but strategically controlling the situation. Or we have been the observers standing in utter amazement at the complete train wreck we are witnessing. Many other variations exist as well. But almost everything in life comes down to crisis and control. 


I want to tell you about something I call “Crisis. Control.” I explain it like this: the crisis in my life was an invitation for me to admit, in my current condition, that my life was a crisis that required Jesus’ control, His kingship of my story. After all, He had offered all His life, even the crises, to God the Father, the Great Storyteller’s control. Watching how Jesus lived taught me a powerful truth that frames how I approach crises in my life:

Crisis is vital because it forces the question, “Who is in control?”

This statement is the cornerstone for the tool I call call “Crisis. Control.” To be clear, I call it “Crisis. Control.” because, in my experience, “the crisis is for control.”—It has taken forty-seven years of life for that truth to sink in. Sigh. 

After Kariann and I were married, our first seven and a half years were an exercise of complete humility. I faced a crisis—a brutal slide into an illness of mind, body and spirit that made me question the very purpose and meaning of my existence. My mental descent into bipolar desperation started subtly. Eventually, it increased in intensity as mounting stress pushed me into territory where I was eagerly willing to compromise previous boundaries I had set for things like alcohol or spiritual purity of heart and mind. Every aspect of my life was affected. I wanted to turn off the pain—so I tried. Boundaries I had previously been unwilling to cross with things like my diet, my exercise, my thought life, and my entertainment choices all became new targets for excess and abuse. I thought I was in control. But the abuses of my freedom caused me to become mastered by my appetites, cravings, and lusts. I was in crisis. My “control” was leading me into vice, not virtue. No matter the difficulty I was facing, the core crisis was that I was always seeking to be in control, to be a god—Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Like them, I didn’t want to have to trust the one and only God. I wanted to be the god who was in control. At times, I still do.

There have been times of haunting stupidity when I have played the role of Lou, Tyler Durden or the dumbfounded spectators in Fight Club. I have also been the bodyguard who has rescued friends from their messes. But my story has become a story of crisis controlled by a loving and incomprehensibly powerful Savior. 

Specifically, I have been able to experience God’s restful control by rhythmically telling my story during the regular crises of life. And goodness, I don’t invite people into the messy adventure to stroke my ego. I do it because inviting people into my story helps encourage others while reminding me of Who is in control—the Great Hero, Jesus Christ. And I must constantly be reminded that Jesus controls everything—even the painful crises. Jesus’ heroic story of crisis has made my gritty story heroic in a way I don’t deserve or expect:

God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.—Matthew 5:3-4 NLT

It was to people who were in dire crisis Jesus brought the message of His Kingdom for the first time. Two thousand years removed, and I am one of those people Jesus’ message continues to reach—I need Jesus. With few exceptions, significant life change only happens when people live through a crisis and find themselves in desperation. Desperate people, those in crisis—as opposed to those in comfort or “in control”—are far more likely to surrender themselves to drastic and lifelong transformation. So when desperate people release control and offer it to Jesus—they repent. And when they repent, they experience a new King and His new kingdom—“Crisis. Control.” is the nit and the grit of Jesus’ Gospel and His kingdom. 

Jesus’ message was:

Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the gospel.—Mark 1:14-15 NASB2020

I had become so desperate that I was willing to turn from my “control” and follow Jesus’ example and His solution for the physical, mental and spiritual sickness that was affecting me. I trusted and followed His specific answer, “repent and believe.” I gave Jesus control of my “fight club”—I gave Him control of the uncontrollable. Jesus hasn’t healed me, but I have experienced seventeen years of health. Yes, crisis surrounded me, but peace, joy, love, patience, and discipline invaded my heart—my spirit was given new life by the Spirit of God. 

Like what happened between the fictional crazy man, Tyler Durden, and mob boss, Lou, from the movie Fight Club, giving Jesus control of the crisis upended my sense of hierarchy and power and gave me new life, exceptional hope and a gritty, heroic story to tell about Jesus Christ, the Great Hero. 

So, yeah, Jesus invites you (and me) to actively engage in His form of “Crisis. Control.” by doing two things every day:

In your current condition, admit that all your life is a crisis that requires Jesus’ control, His kingship of your entire story. 

Begin to host people in your ongoing messy and gritty story that tells a heroic story about Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)—Welcome others into your story at every opportunity. 

Jesus’ “Crisis. Control.” changes the world one story at a time. Your story is next. 

Scott and Kariann Box live in Redmond, Oregon. Scott serves as Pastor of Development at Shiloh Ranch Church and has been a worship leader for over twenty-five years. Kariann works as a Realtor in Central Oregon and supports Scott’s…creative spirit. They have two children, a one-hundred-pound Labradoodle and a four-pound Shih Tzu without teeth. Scott is the author of HEROIC DISGRACE: Order out of chaos. Hope out of fear. ― A Worship Hero Story 

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