Friday, February 6, 2015

“His Determinations, Our Decisions”

   I saw one play of this past Sunday's Super Bowl, the last play in which the Seattle Seahawks opted to pass rather than give the football to their tank of a running back who would have ostensibly scored the winning touchdown.  An interception resulted, and the New England Patriots won the game.

   I could care less about the result.  My interest in the NFL pretty much ended in 1968, when Vince Lombardi stepped down as the coach of the Green Bay Packers.  I am fascinated by the response to the Seahawks' disastrous finish in the recent game referenced.  Much criticism has been directed toward the head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback for the supposed misjudgment and pass that led to defeat.  I fully understand this, and acknowledge the real possibility that a different play call would have very possibly resulted in a different and much more positive outcome for Seattle.  Obviously, however, we cannot know this.  Indeed, the defensive back who intercepted the pass that led to the Patriots' victory might well have made a tackle that resulted in a fumble recovered by New England had the Seahawks chosen to run the football (we are talking about a man who played his college football as the University of West Alabama!).  We don't know and cannot know what would have happened had different choices and circumstances ensued.  Seattle fans can imagine and smile as they contemplate the fantasy.  The cold water of reality quickly splashes in their faces, however, and their team will remain in perpetuity on the short end of the 28-24 outcome.

    We've all made bad play calls, as it were, throughout the course of our lifetime.  We're tempted to imagine what might have happened had we run the ball rather than foolishly throwing it.  Reality doesn't allow for this.  We are all left with life as we lived it, and with the realities of this moment as the consequence.  However, another and greater influence impacts those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our lives not only involve our choices, but also the choices of Another.  "He… worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Our lives flow from a dual fount of determination, namely, God's eternal determinations and our temporal decisions.  I am not foolish enough to imagine how those two streams ebb and flow together as they carry us to our destination.  Nor does the Bible ever explain such a conundrum to our finite minds (John 3:8).  I do know this: the Lord knew every choice we would ever make before our father and mother cooperated with Him in our conception (Psalm 147:5).  Moreover, He promises to coordinate "all things together for good" to those who are the called of Jesus Christ, and who love Him (Romans 8:28).  This "good" involves our being conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:29).  Thus, wherever we may be in this moment in the stream of our lives, and whatever of God's choices and our choices brought us here, we can know this: our Father's purpose of love is to make us like the Son of His love.  We also know that He is able to weave His perfection together with our imperfection as He inexorably knits the tapestry of our lives into the image of Christ.

    Just because our Heavenly Father coordinates all things in our lives for His purposes does not preclude us from seeking to make the best possible decisions of faith and submission.  Seattle and its fans wince when thinking about the choice made this past Sunday.  Our unwise decisions bear far more consequence for ourselves and for those with whom we live our lives.  Again, however, we cannot change the past.  We live life as it is.  We trust and submit to our Father now, in contrition and repentance when necessary, but also in the faith that knows He mercifully purposes to finish the good work He began in us when we believed (Philippians 1:6).  If we have believed, we will ultimately be like the Lord Jesus in character, nature, and way.  Our Father in Heaven will have used all in our lives to fulfill His purposes of grace.  Thus, we proceed from where we are, continuing in faithfulness or arising from unfaithfulness to trust and obey God now, as led by devotion to His determinations, and confidence in His coordination of all things in our lives.

"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him."
(Ephesians 3:8-12)

Weekly Memory Verse
   The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
(Psalm 118:24)

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