Grace, Talent, and Chance (November 30, 2018)
Dear VICC family,
It is easy to slip into the belief that our lives are more or less the accumulation of our own actions. I mean, in a lot of ways this is true. Whether we are good with our money or not has real consequences in our lives, for example. Where we live, who we associate with, the jobs we take...all these are, to some degree at least, the results of our own responsible choices. Maybe we weren't old enough, wise enough, or wealthy enough to have made the best choices, but choices we made nonetheless. Certainly, if things are going well for us, we have to admit that at least some of what we have has been handed to us or prepared for us by others. But the sense that our lives are what we have made of them seems right, because in some ways it is right.
But, of course, in some other very real ways life is not under our control at all. Illness can strike, or natural disaster. The passing of a relative may suddenly leave us with an inheritance we did not expect. Life can swing upwards, and it can come crashing back down. The good job can fall through. The bad neighborhood can turn out to be a place of profound community. One person smokes and eats red meat all their life and lives to a hundred, while their vegetarian neighbor drops dead while jogging. We have some control over life, but not nearly as much as we sometimes like to think.
As we approach the Advent season, which leads us on to Christmas, one thing we can stand to be reminded of is that neither we ourselves, nor blind luck (good or bad), ultimately controls our fate. In the four weeks of Advent we enter, with ancient Israel, into a season of waiting. We wait for Messiah. We wait for deliverance. And beyond ancient Israel, alongside all of the Christian church, we await the return of Messiah and the establishment of universal peace. In the season of Advent, we wait for Jesus. And in the celebration of Christmas, we are reminded that all this waiting is not in vain.
Neither you nor I are ultimately in charge of our lives. We are not the captains of our own destiny. But neither are we the victims of fate, or the beneficiaries of dumb luck. Really, our lives are not really the point even of our own lives. You and I are part of a bigger story. A salvation story. And it is a story whose author and finisher is God himself.
Your Partner in the Journey,