Friday, February 28, 2014

Fate? God's will? Or a copout?

   A fourth grade student wakes up on a Monday morning and contemplates what this day might bring. An uneasiness fills his stomach as he thinks about his school, the other students, the homework that is due, and the test he's supposed to take today. The more he thinks about it, the less inclined he is to make the long walk from his front door to the school property.
   He never mentions his feelings to his parents, but before he even steps out of the doorway, he already knows that he has no intention of attending. It's simply too much for him to even think about. So he leaves his home, giving his parents the impression that he's heading to school, then turns the other way as soon as he's out of their line of sight. He spends the entire day wandering the neighborhood, in and out of local stores, and through the neighborhood park.

   When he see's his classmates beginning to return at the end of the day, he makes his way back home. Upon his arrival, fear begins to grip him as he notices his parent's car in the driveway. After all, they're supposed to be at work for another few hours. He takes a deep breath and enters his home, only to be met by his frantic parents who had been called by the school and informed of his absence.

   He has to think quickly as he is pounded with questions about his whereabouts and his reasons for skipping school.

   Thinking back upon what he had heard his parents say on many occasions, he looks up at them and confidently insists that it must have been God's will that he didn't make to school that day.

   He parents stand in stunned silence for a few seconds before demanding an explanation as to how this could possibly be God's will.

   "Well, God is in control of all things, and I never made it to school, right? It therefore must have been God's will that I didn't go."

   This may sound like a completely illogical defense, and one that nobody in their right mind would ever attempt to get away with, right?

   But I believe we use this very defense far more often than we'd care to believe whenever we're faced with making difficult choices or making changes in our lives that appear to be overwhelming to us.

   I know beyond a doubt that there are times when, no matter how much effort we make, we run into brick wall after brick wall, and it becomes clear to us that God keeps us in a place we're not particularly fond of. At that point - when we know that we've done all that we can do - we can say with some degree of certainty that we are where we are because it's apparently God's will that we stay there.

   But I truly wonder how many beautiful moments have been missed, how many gifts have never been used to their full potential, and how many days, weeks, months, years, or even entire lifetimes have been wasted - not because it's God's will that we remain where we are - but because we're too frightened to break out of our comfort zones and face the unknown with reckless abandon.

   We've become a very comfortable people. We have grown to believe that all of the luxuries we've enjoyed in our lives are things we are somehow entitled to. We stay within these comfortable surroundings, we buy all of the latest creature comforts to make our lives easier, we never take any real risks or step out in faith in any dramatic way, and we then assume that it's God's will that we remain where we are.

   I'm not saying that God doesn't keep people where they are - within these comfortable environments - for extended periods of time. What I'm saying is this: Before you boldly proclaim to the world that it's God's will that you are where you are, ask Him first to speak to you about where He might have you go and what He might have you do.

   Many of us are terrified to ask those questions because we don't want to think about letting go of what we've held on to so very tightly for so very long. But Jesus' own words say the following:

   "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

   So I leave you with something to consider. Do you feel as though you're living life abundantly, or are you merely existing from day to day, caught up in the rat race of what we've been told is the normal life? And if you're not living life abundantly, how can that possibly be "God's will.?"