by Ernest O'Neill
What does your future depend on ? The education you have or haven't ? Your parents ? Your business training ? The opportunities you will be given ? Luck ? Chance encounters with significant people ? Most of us think it will depend on what we make of what we have. However we answer this question about our futures, we all are pretty certain that our own actions and initiatives are central -- so we feel a considerable degree of responsibility and anxiety about what we're going to do with the rest of our lives ! Certainly we have little doubt that it depends mostly on us ourselves -- there are millions of people in this world and somehow we have to cut out a path for ourselves that will enable us to survive and prosper.
The reality, of course, is utterly different ! Even though the world we look at is a picture of millions of little people like ourselves doing just what we've described, this is not reality: on the contrary, it's unreality - the very opposite of reality. The world is not meant -- and does not need to be -- this confused mass of humanity struggling to survive and make some kind of order out of the chaos. The great person that made us did not create the earth, stars, space and us and throw the whole mess into a pot and let it sort itself out for the next million years !
One of his son's biographers put it like this -- "we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". When you think about it, it makes sense. Why would the creator make all the complicated solar systems where planets and stars orbit each other with absolute precision for centuries and then throw all of us on to one of them to sort out our own lives any old way we can ? It just doesn't fit ! It doesn't make sense ! We know from research that our minds and bodies are more intricate than the most complex computers we've made so far.
We know also that there has to be some overarching force that enables millions of us to do billions of actions in crowded cities every day without the whole system breaking up in chaos. Although we complacently respond that it's due to man's clever adaptation to his environment, we see how the failure of a small o-ring in the space-shuttle or a contact in the electrical grid-system reminds us how dependent we are on things going right. Yet we have become accustomed to pretend that it all depends on our human decisions and discipline rather than some other power that graciously overrules our fallibility at crucial moments.
Nevertheless all of us have had experiences that have had a crucial effect on the course of our lives - some person or circumstance or event that started us on a series of actions that changed our lives completely. Without this apparent "chance" our lives would have been completely different - and we had almost nothing to do with it happening. These are the little clues our Maker gives us that "we are God's workmanship -- created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". Another clue is "gifts" -- a musician's extraordinary ability to play a certain instrument. He doesn't do anything but practice and play as well as he can - but the result is crowd-stopping. The same is true of singers, artists, mathematicians, footballers, carpenters, teachers, gardeners -- they all do what the rest of us do, but their gift makes the result unusually successful. These are just hints that all of us -- even you - have special "works" that we have been made to do -- and for which our Maker has given us the ability. They may not be regarded in the celebrity world as gifts -- sweeping a street, cleaning toilets, transplanting hearts, sewing clothes; but they are vital "works" that your Creator has chosen to do through you !
This, of course, is the most wonderful thing about our life here on earth - not that God has made us to "do" certain works in our lifetime, but that he "has prepared certain works beforehand that we should walk in them". We don't actually DO them - he has prepared them beforehand - he has designed them into the events that will take place in the world - he has planned that these things would happen - so all we have to do is "walk" in them. Sure -- it's our hand that holds the bow and moves it back and forward on the strings of the violin -- sure it's our hand that moves the brush that sweeps the dust away -- but it's Him that makes and sustains the bow and the cat-gut and enables the air to transmit the sound-waves to the ears that enable the brain to register the harmony and the peace. It's all "a setup" -- we just walk through it. Let's talk about what God does and what we do next time.
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