“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
In our American culture, we have been told since we were little that you can be whatever you want to be. If you were born a janitor living off of welfare, you still have the opportunity to be the President of the United States if you want. As my youth pastors pointed out this morning, though, that hasn’t always been the case. Before the 1700’s, if your father was a carpenter, you were too. And if you were a girl– you were just out of luck. Even in communistic countries, freedom of choice is nonexistent. The concept of free will is a new development.And yet, it isn’t so new. Everyone has choices and options open to them. Perhaps not as big as occupation or country of residence, but in the little things. In the Bible, the greatest men were the ones who made the choice to follow God and allow Him to work through them. David had the choice to fight Goliath, or run back to his father. Moses had the choice to have endless debates with Pharaoh over releasing the Israelites, or to settle down outside of Egypt with his new family in peace. Abraham chose to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, because the Lord told him to. Jonah was swallowed by a whale because he made bad choices. Regardless of government or society, mankind has the ability to choose.
I don’t want to tackle the debate over predestination versus free will today, because it will result in my brain exploding into a million pieces. It’s complicated, with many facets that point in opposite directions. But this topic has been brought up a lot recently, and I am inclined to write about it, so here we are:
God knows exactly what you are going to do, every single moment of every single day for your entire life. He knew you before conception, and he knows more about you than you know about yourself. He designed you for a purpose– he has a calling for you. Why are you even here, if God didn’t want you to happen? Nothing on Earth is an accident; even the hippo and platypus were designed specifically for a purpose (comedic relief). Romans 9:20-21 talks about God being our potter, making each of us by hand. One pot may be used as a trash can, and one may hold the King’s wine– who are we to question our purpose? So, if God designed us for a specific purpose, and He knows every detail of our fate, then are we actually making these choices?
In our American culture, we have been told since we were little that you can be whatever you want to be. If you were born a janitor living off of welfare, you still have the opportunity to be the President of the United States if you want.
But the point is not that we have the freedom to choose our destiny. It’s not even that we have the power to change our fate. It’s whether we are content in the life that we have been given.
If you were created to be the President of the United States, then you will be. If you were created to be a janitor living off of welfare, then you will be.
And now I must delve into the concept of how we measure our own success. In our culture, being the President of the United States sounds like an amazing purpose– and being a janitor living off of welfare sounds like no purpose at all. But that’s wrong. In God’s eyes, being a janitor is just as important as being the president. We have to get over the thought that our ‘success’ is based off of our annual salary, or the size of our house. ‘Success’ should be defined as how close we follow the Lord’s leading– whether he leads us to be a janitor, or to be the president. Nothing else matters.
Since God already knows every choice we make before we make it, and He makes plans according to the choices we will be making in the future, what are so worried about? Our success is measured by how closely we follow the footsteps of the Lord, so we should stop trying to be successful (in comparison to our worldly standards), and focus on making our choices align as closely as possible with the Lord’s will. We have the choice to be closer, we can choose to sacrifice our son, or to debate with Pharaoh. And God has already compensated for the choices we haven’t made yet.
So don’t worry about it. God’s got it all under control. We don’t have to be ‘successful,’ we just have to be committed to our purpose. Whatever that may be.