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 willdepend on what we make of what we have. However we answer this question aboutour futures, we all are pretty certain that our own actions and initiatives arecentral — so we feel a considerable degree of responsibility and anxiety aboutwhat we’re going to do with the rest of our lives ! Certainly we have littledoubt that it depends mostly on us ourselves — there are millions of people inthis world and somehow we have to cut out a path for ourselves that will enableus to survive and prosper.
Order and Disorder
The reality, of course, is utterly different ! Even though the world welook at is a picture of millions of little people like ourselves doing justwhat 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 oforder 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 itselfout for the next million years !
One of his son’s biographers put it like this — “we are God’sworkmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he has preparedbeforehand that we should walk in them”. When you think about it, it makessense. Why would the creator make all the complicated solar systems whereplanets and stars orbit each other with absolute precision for centuries andthen throw all of us on to one of them to sort out our own lives any old way wecan ? It just doesn’t fit ! It doesn’t make sense ! We know from research thatour minds and bodies are more intricate than the most complex computers we’vemade so far.
We know also that there has to be some overarching force that enablesmillions of us to do billions of actions in crowded cities every day withoutthe whole system breaking up in chaos. Although we complacently respond thatit’s due to man’s clever adaptation to his environment, we see how the failureof a small o-ring in the space-shuttle or a contact in the electricalgrid-system reminds us how dependent we are on things going right. Yet we havebecome accustomed to pretend that it all depends on our human decisions anddiscipline rather than some other power that graciously overrules ourfallibility at crucial moments.
Nevertheless all of us have had experiences that have had a crucialeffect on the course of our lives – some person or circumstance or event thatstarted us on a series of actions that changed our lives completely. Withoutthis apparent “chance” our lives would have been completely different – and wehad almost nothing to do with it happening. These are the little clues ourMaker gives us that “we are God’s workmanship — created in Christ Jesus forgood works which he has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.Another clue is “gifts” — a musician’s extraordinary ability to play a certaininstrument. 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 dowhat 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 wehave been made to do — and for which our Maker has given us the ability. Theymay 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 !
You — or God ?
This, of course, is the most wonderful thing about our life here onearth – not that God has made us to “do” certain works in our lifetime, butthat he “has prepared certain works beforehand that we should walk in them”. Wedon’t actually DO them – he has prepared them beforehand – he has designed theminto the events that will take place in the world – he has planned that thesethings would happen – so all we have to do is “walk” in them. Sure — it’s ourhand that holds the bow and moves it back and forward on the strings of theviolin — 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 theair to transmit the sound-waves to the ears that enable the brain to registerthe harmony and the peace. It’s all “a setup” — we just walk through it. Let’stalk about what God does and what we do next time.