As my older sister aptly reminded me yesterday, we were raised Presbyterian and one of the great mysteries of hearing my dad preach was when he would talk about "predestination".
I was analytical even as a child and I remember thinking how futile everything was if God had everything already set and we couldn't change anything about the future.
One of my favorite new shows is called Frequency. It is about a young girl who learns how to use the ham radio with her father, who was an undercover cop. He is killed and 20 years later she becomes a cop in the same precinct. Through a series of events, he begins talking to her - in real time for both of them - over the ham radio. She assists him in warding off his own murder and then watches, in horror at how that change has a ripple effect. A twist on time travel and what we saw in Back to the Future with Marty helping Doc avoid his own death and changing the outcome of everything.
Well, these examples of motion picture and television fiction imply that we can actually change the outcome, by our actions. For the better and for the worse.
So which is true? Is everything predestined and we cannot battle fate? If we try, do we mess everything up?
One day about 10 years ago I was flying over New York city and for some reason I was pondering the notion of God being the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
My life chapter in the Bible is Psalm 139 and it clearly says that He knew me before I was born. He equipped me. He is with me in good times and bad and He knows my thoughts before I know them and He knows every day of my life.
How God? How do you know without dictating what I do??
Well, if you play chess, you will understand the concept of making something good come out of even the bad moves. Keep that picture in mind.
Then think about the gift of choice. I think that was the ultimate sacrifice of creation. God could have made us perfect - no sin, no desire to sin, beautiful little puppets, doing His bidding, night and day. But that is not what happened. He gave us the power to choose - to love and serve him, or not and to do what is in alignment with the perfect plan, or not.
I call that last point the Israelite option. It only takes about 18 days to walk from Egypt to modern day Israel (the promised land). Because of their unbelief and disobedience, it took the Israelites 40 years.
I don't want to choose that option for my own life. I'm not that patient. Give me the promised land now.
So back to how God can be at the beginning, the middle and the end and how He can know the outcome. Let me give you an easy visual that will demonstrate His omnipresence.
Picture the New York marathon at around 11 am on a bright sunny, clear morning. There are runners already nearing the finish line, reaping the rewards of months and months of rigorous training and their guaranteed entry status and position. All along the course, there are more runners, perhaps that have not trained quite as diligently, each with different stories, not only about their training leading up to the race, but what they ate and drank in the 24 hours before the race and how much water they consumed to ensure that they are properly hydrated. And at the starting line, of the 50,000 total runners there are still more that haven't even begun their run (or their speedwalk), as they didn't qualify to be near the front. Some were perhaps foolish enough not to train at all or to think that they could party until the wee hours and still be able to make it the entire 26.2 miles. Not likely.
Above it all is the news helicopter. From its unique vantage point, it can see the beginning, themiddle and the end of the race course. The news crew's cameraperson can use the powerful telephoto lens of the camera to zoom in on individual runners, seeing their triumph, their pain and the agony of those that can't make it all the way to the end.
Just think of our omnipresent God in the same way as you see that helicopter in your mind.
We always have the power of choice It was his gift to us.
What we do not have is the power of choosing the consequences.
The runner that drinks until dawn and stumbles to the back of the starting line does not get to choose the outcome of running the race in under 4 hours, with a triumphant charge across the finish line, hands in the air. No, he or she will be lucky to even make it a few miles into the course, since alcohol dehydrates you severely, which impacts your muscles ability to respond when your brain tries to tell them how to respond. Guaranteed bad outcome.
The one that lives in a virtual state of training throughout the year has a much better chance to complete the race with a victorious gate to their run, but even the most experienced runner occasionally cramps up or stumbles.
Like that chess game, if we make a wrong choice or a bad decision, if we can come back to our Creator for direction and let him get us back on course, He has promised in Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Train well. Consult your Creator about even the most mundane things in your life. He will provide direction and He will right your course if you just ask Him how.