I am not into predestination. One of the great myths of Christianity seems to be that God has a plan for each of us. That pretty much sounds like predestination to me. If God has a plan for me, knows where I am going to end up . . . well, that reeks of predestination to me. A lot of the Christians I encounter by into this idea of God having a plan for each of us. I don’t think that God has a plan for each of us . . . at least not short of us attaining what we were created to be as individuals created in God’s image . . . but, a specific, laid out plan—I cannot buy into that.
For me to buy into that sort of thinking I would think that God has a better way of laying out the plan than what most of us experience in our lives. If most of our lives are being lived according to God’s plan, well then, God has a pretty haphazard plan for most of us . . . God has a pretty wicked sense of humor. No, I think that if God had a specific plan for our lives, God would have given our parent written instructions (maybe even stone tablets) detailing those plans for each of us. I know that my parents never received any such instructions when they took me out of the hospital to go home. I know that the wife and I never received any such instructions with any of our kids. If God is a loving and caring God, God would not make us play this game we call life . . . God would have shown us the way! But, God didn’t.
I realize that the statements above are pretty thin, but I am attempting to keep things simple. Basically what I am trying to say is that I do not think that God has a specific plan for each of us . . . that our lives are predestined. There are a variety of reasons that I believe this. I cannot picture God predestining any person to a life of poverty and hunger . . . a life of abuse . . . a life of neglect . . . violence . . . calamity . . . disaster . . . none of it. I cannot believe that God would predestine some folks to ungodly wealth . . . power . . . or even popularity. I do not think that God plans any of our lives out step by step. I cannot buy into it because I cannot believe that God would will any of the crap that I have experienced in life on any one. That is not a God that I can believe.
Instead I believe in a God that has hope . . . hope that all of us will fulfill our destinies as the individuals that God created us to be. Individuals who have come to know that the most important thing is love . . . love of God . . . of love ourselves . . . love of others. It was a love that was model by God through Jesus. I think that is what God hopes for . . . that we all attain this state of love as the people we were created to be . . . people created in the image of God. It all comes down to relationships . . . loving relationships.
Which brings me to my present life situation . . . a state of discombobulation. I like that word . . . discombobulation . . . it kind of rolls off the tongue . . . it sounds cool. Yet, as much as I like the word, I am not too thrilled with what the word represents. To be discombobulated is to be mixed up . . . confused . . . frustrated . . . out of synch . . . discombobulated. For a couple of weeks I have felt discombobulated.
In my life right now nothing seems to be in synch. For several years everything seemed to fall into place . . . the move to Montana . . . the church I serve . . . the job at the university . . . life in general. Everything seemed to fit into place . . . everything seemed to be going according to plans whether they were divine or human made. Everything seemed to fall into place and work together . . . at least until recently.
Now, I have heard the racist statement that white men cannot dance . . . but, this guy at least knew how to put two feet in front of himself and walk without falling down. It seems I am falling down all of the time lately. The move to Montana—still the best thing that I have ever done. Whatever my life is to be about is supposed to be done here. Montana is fine . . . no discombobulation there.
The church . . . well, it is actually going really well. We are not growing by leaps and bounds . . . we aren’t actually growing at all; but, though we are not growing numerically, we are growing spiritually. I have seen tremendous growth towards wholeness and hospitality . . . radical inclusiveness . . . since coming to serve as a pastor. Things are pretty good there too.
Work at the university . . . hmmm . . . might be some issues there. I love the people I work with at the Montana Center for Inclusive Education at Montana State University Billings—they are good people. Yet, at the same time, I feel as if things have changed tremendously . . . my role has been dramatically changed—over and over again—for a lot of reasons. In the five-plus years that I have worked for the Center, my role has changed numerous time. Those role changes have been due primarily funding issues; but, none the less, there have been numerous changes. Yet, I still have hope that at some point the Center will actually allow me to work towards their idea of inclusion . . . but, in the meantime I continue to be a pimp providing the much demanded professional education that teachers seek.
So, there is some discombobulation in my working life. Right now I find myself longing to be in the full-time ministry. Yeah . . . yeah . . . I know, life is a constant opportunity to minister; but, I want to get back into ministry on a full-time basis . . . back among the people on a daily basis. Right now the situation does not allow that to happen . . . I float between two worlds and the world of ministry often falls short of what it could be. That knowledge is discombobulating.
What I wish I could do and what I am doing are not matching up very well. There are a variety of reasons that these are not matching up, but primarily it comes down to . . . yeah, you’ve got it—money. The things that I love to do . . . write . . . photography . . . hang out with God; well, none of those pay too well. Yes, I know that God will provide . . . but will God provide me at the level I have come accustomed to? One side of me wants to jump in with both feet and see where I land . . . the other side wants to play it safe and hang onto what I have. On the safety side of life I can provide for my family . . . I can buy them things that they not only need, but also the things that they want. On jumping in with both feet on the side of writing, photography, and hanging around with God . . . well, there does not seem like there is much money.
Thus it has been for a couple of weeks that I have been struggling with my life. It is not really the way that I want to live it, but it is the way that I support my family. It is not terrible, but it is also not making much of a difference in the lives of others or myself. It is not fun. Thus I flip back and forth between I want feel is my purpose and what is my work . . . I keep thinking to myself that there has to be something better than this. The pieces are all there, but I have not figured a way to put them together. And, trust me, it has been a draining frustration the past few weeks.
This is not what I think that God planned for me . . . if it is, then God has a wicked sense of humor. Yet, at the same time, I think that God is keeping an eye on me and hoping . . . hoping that I live up to God’s expectations . . . expectations of loving God, loving myself, and loving others. In the past few months I feel as if I have been going through the motions. It really has me discombobulated.
As much as I love the word “discombobulated”, I do not care too much for the state of mind . . . mentally, physically, and spiritually. I do not think that this is something God would slam dunk on me. I don’t believe in that predestination stuff. But, I do believe that God is rooting for me to make good decisions based on love . . . based on community . . .based on relationships. God wants me to achieve my destiny . . . a destiny that is not planned out for me but one that is hoped for. It is no fun to feel discombobulated—no matter how cool the word might sound.
For a while now my prayer has been simple. It is the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed: “Thy will be done.” I know that it is not some map that God hands down from heaven, but a simple hope. Hope that I fully come to know and embrace the example of Jesus. The day will come when I no longer feel discombobylated. In the meantime, I keep plugging along. It is tough work . . . but, God still hopes for me. God still hopes for you . . . may we all find the love of God in our lives and in the relationships we have. I do not think that God destines upon us, but hopes for us.
“Thy will be done . . .”
As simple as that prayer might be . . . it is tough. May we all find that hope in our daily lives. Life is holy when one comes to realize what really matters is relationships . . . love . . . and, grace. Our destiny is determined in how we live up to God’s hope. Sounds easy, but it is difficult. Almost discombobulating.