How much input do we have over our own destinies?
Or, rather, how integral a part do we play in determining our little segment of the cosmic story?
One man feels like he is called by God to change a nation. So he goes and, with God’s help, he does it. Did he have a choice in following the call? Or was he always destined for greatness?
Another man leaves his wife and baby and hops on a train with no destination in mind. A third one gets in a fight and ends up running from the cops. Did they take paths they were scripted to run down? Or did they have a hand in writing these dramas for themselves?
When Abraham talked to God and implored Him to save Sodom and Gomorrah, had God already decided that He would give Abraham what he wanted? Was it all prewritten? Or did Abraham change God’s mind? (Gen. 18:22-33)
Why was God horrified to find that Cain had killed Abel? (Gen. 4:10) Why would He give nations the chance to repent if there was no chance they would? (Jonah 1:2)
How much control do we have over our lives? Any? Some? All?
Maybe this all sounds a little too lofty and academic. But try these phrases on for size: “Everything happens for a reason.” “It’s all part of God’s plan.” “Why did God allow this?”
How many times have you heard someone say one of those phrases? How many times have you said them yourself? This isn’t just a dusty academic issue. This is something that affects us all. And it distinctly affects how we see God.
As a writer, I have always been very attracted to the idea of God as the Author and Finisher of our faith. It is very easy for me to see God as the great creator, the consummate, ultimate storyteller. I think that there is great truth in this: looking back at my life, I can see the plot lines winding and weaving and intersecting. I can see how this led to this which led to this, and that I would not be the person I am today if any of these things had been different. That includes the good and the bad.
However, I feel there is another side, too. I don’t think God is only interested in being the Great Author. I don’t even think He’s interested in just being the main character (for more on this, see Jesus.) I think he wants to be a collaborator. And I think He wants His fellow collaborator to be you.
For millions of years God spun out his story, his drama, his artistic and creative masterpiece called the universe. He spoke and light, matter and energy exploded into existence. He forged a breathtaking panoply of particles and lit the dark with supernovae and swirled clouds of dust into planets. It was mind-numbingly stunning. But it was all in preparation for what was to come. Up until that point He had written the story by Himself. But now He had created a stage and raw materials for the coauthors to emerge.
And we did. Each one of us was given a few years (barely a flicker in the cosmic history) to write our own stories. And then our part would be done, and another would take our place. We could help to shape the Great Story, for good or ill, as we saw fit. God would maintain overall creative control, of course, but He was also incredibly generous with His story.
Sometimes we did the right thing, and the story achieved a rousing high note. Often we did not, and the story swept into darkness and depths of despair. Quite often we even crafted in shades of horror.
But here’s the crux of it: I believe that we have license to shape the story. I believe that our destinies remain unfulfilled not because God didn’t really mean for greatness to happen to us, but because we never did anything about it. We are so busy waiting for God to write something interesting, when He’s really saying, “This is your story. You write it.”
I know a man who loves God. And every time I talk to him, he is anxiously looking forward to the day when God finally tells him how to apply his talents and make a difference for the Kingdom. He’s not a spring chicken any more. But any day now, he’s pretty sure God is going to tell him what to do and where to go. And when that day comes, boy will it be great to know what God intends for him.
What if he reaches the end of his life and God never tells him what to do? Or what if God did, and he just never listened? What if God was telling him to write his own story?
I don’t claim that this is an exhaustive answer, or even a particularly good one. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about, and I am certainly open to greater knowledge and new ideas. But for now, I would love for you to think on this: if God gave you the outline and you’re filling in the details, what details would you want to see in your life? At the end of your life, what would make you feel like you made a difference and changed the world? What would send ripples through future storytellers for generations to come?
Go. Write that.
I’d love to hear your comments below!
Original image (c) Can Stock Photo