Friday, November 03, 2006


How much of our lives have been predetermined? To what extent are our lives ruled by an uncontrollable destiny -- an inescapable fate? Is it fair to think we were born a certain way or "born for" a certain purpose -- or should we place more emphasis on the role of our choices and/or the environment in which we've sought to define ourselves? Who's pulling the strings of our marionette show? How much is God involved in the day-to-day affairs of mankind, and how much of what we presume to be God's involvement is actually just the logical consequences of inborn laws of nature that work themselves out according to people's actions and reactions within the created order?

These questions have plagued mankind for ages. Sociologists theorize the impact of "nature" (the way we were made) versus "nurture" (the way we were raised). Theologians ponder the spectrum of Calvinism (predestined script for the universe and for each individual life) to Armenianism (freewill of humans dictating their destiny, with God choosing a laissez-faire approach). But the fact is that it's still a mystery. Both ends of the spectra may be correct -- or neither. We live with a paradox of choice and destiny. But what does this mean for our lives?

What about the person who "just so happens" to end up following the career path of his father before him, and his father's father before him? What about the person with "control issues" whose mother also had considerable "control issues" of her own -- or (perhaps more commonly) considerable "out-of-control issues" -- but who must still make individual choices as an adult and must live with the consequences of those sinful patterns in life? What about the person choosing to "come out of the closet" -- claiming to be inescapably and inherently homosexual, claiming to be born that way -- yet simultaneously fitting every pattern in the book to precipitate such lifestyle decisions (dysfunctional parental relationships, sexual abuse, a persistently depressive state of looking to belong, looking to be loved)? What about the married couple that falls into estrangement and adultery -- seemingly caught in a star-crossed pattern of love's reversal, but only after a classic progression of broken expectations, feeding into each other's pain, and subconsciously wounding each other in the very most sensitive areas -- and only to be repeated in ten-year cycles of love-marriage-estrangement-divorce-love-marriage-estrangement-divorce?

We don't want to be patterns, statistics, type-casted characters, unoriginal pawns in some great big choreographed show... But we also don't want to be alone, cosmic orphans, hung out to dry, ultimately responsible parties in a world that's completely out-of-control. Similarly, I can't buy into arguments and explanations of "it's all my parents' fault" or "God made me this way" or "it was just meant to be as such"... But I must equally reject blanket claims of "I'm the problem" or "I chose for this completely independently" or "If only I would have done this one thing, the situation would have been different"...

What an impossible conundrum! What a dilemma! What a mystery...

Oddly enough, such mysteries only strengthen my assurances of the supernatural. In the face of such impossibilities, I can more purely put my faith in God. And infinite God. A God of the impossible. A God whose ways are higher than my ways and whose thoughts are higher than my thoughts -- a God capable of understanding these things on a higher plane where the "irreconcilable" can somehow be reconciled. Somehow, I must have hope in this omnipotent omniscient God and His ability to right all wrongs in their appropriate time and place... But I must also accept responsibility as an agent of God's Kingdom, trusting the Holy Spirit to fill me and use me to supernaturally reverse the flow of natural events.

I guess when it comes down to it, there are no easy answers. Only faith (any point on these spectra requires a significant element of faith). And as for me, I choose to put my faith in the mystery.


At 5:37 AM, Blogger Maura Grunkelmeier said...

Well questioned Eric! I have been thinking of it lately in terms of the butterfly.

I'm not sure what all this will add up to...all the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, the ridiculous...but the Bible speaks of transformations...and those on a scale not comprehensible to the human mind.

So, if the Lord can fix it so that a thing, in essence not much more than a glorified slug, may transform from a wobbly earth bound roll...into a majestic and ethereal creature that can fly...well...seems to offer some measure of hope for the rest of us I think.

Faith is what is required, that is true. But it's not as if He didn't leave know?


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