If reality is that the creator of the world has made us in his sonso that he can live the life through us that he has planned, how does he dothat without making us robots ? Through two remarkable factors in our life hereon this planet – neither of which seem to be under the control of our ownwills. One is the part played by providence in our lives and the other is thepart played by gifts or talents that we all possess to a greater or lesserdegree.
Winston Churchill described providence like this: “The longer onelives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and theharder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arisessimply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny,Fate, Providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing,to wit, that a man’s own contribution to his life story is continuallydominated by an external superior power. Most of us can remember incidents inour lives that attest to the same reality – people we met at certain crucialtimes in our lives, events that influenced the way we spent the next ten ortwenty years. Yet these incidents seemed to be pure chance that we could notexplain or have foreseen; often they came right out of the blue and had noapparent connection with anything that preceded or followed them. Others weresimply unexpected turns that our lives took or people that we met just once andnever saw again.
The same kind of chance or luck or providence appears to governsome of the biggest changes or developments that take place in the larger lifeof nations and history itself. Often the direction of a war depends on anoutstanding leader who comes to the fore at the right time or on aninsignificant change in weather or location; these unforeseen and unexpectedincidents have governed the outcome of most of the wars in recent times.Similarly, the development of civilization has been greatly helped or hinderedby inventions or disasters that were under no human being’s control, yet thevery future of humanity depended on them. Diseases and their cures, changes inweather and climate, discoveries of natural processes have spelt the differencebetween survival and destruction among peoples and nations. Again and again thewhole direction of a war has been changed by a crucial battle being lost or wonor by the emergence of a leader who had never been noticed before that time.Similarly, inventions in medicine or weaponry or engineering have opened uphuge areas of discovery and progress that no one had anticipated. One mightalmost say that the main movements of human history have occurred throughevents and people that no human will produced or no human mind foresaw.
The fact that these phenomena led to so much order and progressled one of our poets to write “there’s a destiny that shapes our ends -rough-hew them though we will”. It’s also why the old German military leader,Bismarck, said it’s important to “listen for the footsteps of God”. Eithermindless chance brings these things about or a superior mind foresees thedevelopments that result from our free actions and acts deliberately to guidethem towards resolution rather than chaos. This is why Paul wrote to theEphesians “according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all thingsaccording to the counsel of his will” and why so many of us are familiar withthe saying that “all things work together for good to those who love God”.Theodicy is the way God exercises his will without coercing our wills and onecan see how this works out when we look at the many incidents in our liveswhich we cannot attribute to our own wisdom or fault. Obviously our lives aregreatly influenced by events beyond our control even though we continue toexercise our own free wills.
The same kind of direction in our lives occurs from anotherphenomenon over which we have as little control. This is the “talents” withwhich we’re born. Often when an outstanding musician is asked about his greattalent or a singer about her voice, they will both answer that they just dowhat they do. They don’t think it is their cleverness –they just sing or playlike the rest of us, but their talent makes them sound far better. It’s thesame with most of us who have talents that others notice – we just do whatothers do, but our talent makes our performance much better. Now the truth isthat we were all born with certain abilities and society calls some of themtalents because they stand out from the norm. But the truth is that all of ushave little abilities to do certain things better than we do others – these aregifts given to us by our creator. You have some – nobody – not even you – maynotice them, but sometimes someone will notice you doing something that younever think about – you just do it ! That is one of the ways our creator guidesour lives or “has works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. It’syet another way in which Christ within us is moving our lives along ourCreator’s plan.