So, this blog entry is specifically a reflection on the main picture, so if you didn’t look/read closely, look again. Or, if that’s too many clicks for you, here it is again:
First of all, I’m not sure I believe this as written at face value.
It implies either a faith-based “truism” that I simply cannot and do not accept any longer (but please note my faith in God is stronger than ever – more on that later):
“Nothing happens to us except that which passes through the hand of God first”
“I’ve decided that Ben needs to learn something, so I will allow this horrible thing to happen to him.”
I call bullshit, and if this is true, God sucks. This is nothing short of fatalism with some God-spin on it, and I reject it.
Yes, I know there are scriptural references that support something akin to this quote, but there is also an equal (or exceeding) number of verses that support self-determination (aka “free will”) and the consequences we reap because of them.
As I’ve pondered in previous theology-related posts, how do we reconcile a sovereign, all powerful, all loving God with evil and suffering? One is to use the above “truism” that says God causes/allows it for a purpose that is ultimately to my (and all of our) benefit.
And I just can’t do it.
The other is to say I have at least a degree of self-determination which allows me to make choices for which there are negative consequences I must experience. I make these choices because of a “fallen world” and my “corrupted flesh” which has not yet fully attained “the stature of Christ”. If I just reach the “stature”, I will not suffer anymore.
Ugh – that’s a mind fuck. Sorry. I have no other way to put it. And it’s pure poison to a performance-oriented perfectionist (points at self).
So I find myself someplace in the middle.
And really, isn’t everything someplace in the middle?
Perhaps some of the Bible “truths” and the traditions that have flowed out of it are on opposite ends of the spectrum to intentionally FORCE us to the middle:
How is this possible? Beats the hell out of me. Greater minds than mine have wrestled with it and come up short, so I don’t expect to solve it.
But back to the photo/meme I started with.
I cannot accept either a system that says “God caused or allowed everything to bring me to the eventual ‘right’ place” nor can I say “Every stupid thing I’ve ever done and reaped negative consequences for happened INTENTIONALLY to get me where I am and to where I’m eventually supposed to go”.
What if I approached “everything I am going through” AS IF it had an “intention” for my good?
Rather than saying “well, this happened for a reason (either God’s call – cough-bullshit-cough – or because I made a bonehead decision – “Ben, you are SUCH an idiot“), let’s just say….
wait for it….
Now, what do I do with “This”? Do I allow it to defeat and derail me? Do I march gaily forward knowing it’s “all in the hands of God”?
Or do I say,
I think the fact that I put the third question into a “pull quote” tells you which question I am asking myself these days.
Rather than saying “xyz happened to bring me to the place I am ‘supposed’ to be”, I say “xyz happened. Now what? What have I learned? How will I use it to enhance my own humanity and be a better human to other humans because of it?
Yes, I know, it sounds to some of you like I’m drifting dangerously close to secular humanism. I assure you, I am not. I am still deeply grounded in faith. I believe in a loving God (more than I ever have in my entire life). I believe in love for others and find myself with more capacity for “others-loving” each day. NOT because God caused/allowed me to wander through SHIT to get here. I’m sorry, that’s a bad God image. And NOT because all of my experiences and choices fatalistically and irreversibly brought me to this place (or the place to which I am going). Although I’m closer to that one than the first.
I believe a couple things:
If you don’t believe that, you aren’t paying attention.
I have choices to make about what to do with the shit
Again, I refuse to fatalistically move forward with “everything happens for a reason” and wait to see what happens next. WAY too passive for me (and not Biblical NOR Christian, really, but that’s a different article).
I think I am closing in on a “This happened. So what? Now what?” life recipe. It is guided heavily by Jesus principles, which is why I still call myself a Christian (or “Jesus Follower” as I am becoming more and more uncomfortable being lumped by title with some of the knuckleheads out there claiming Christ – but again, that’s another article).
So, finally, BACK TO THE GRAPHIC:
Yeah, I’m going with that.
Enough for today, although I feel a need to more fully expound on some of this. But I know my readers. You’ve reached your limit. 🙂
Have a great holiday weekend! I’d love to see some of your thoughts, reactions, CHALLENGES even, in the comments section.