Saturday, September 25, 2004

Does God Choose Us?

I'm going to post some stuff here that I've written before, for convenient storage and reference.

This is my response to a recent question from another parent of a T21 child. We are often told by those "well-meaning" acquaintences that we've been chosen by God to raise this child because we, somehow, are divinely suited to the purpose :
For me, having Emma has caused, and still causes, a re-thinking of all of my core beliefs and assumptions. Some have been re-affirmed, some have been radically altered, and I think I will always struggle with some until I reach the great hereafter. I am fond of mis-quoting Ricky Ricardo when I say that "God has some 'splainin' to do. I think it has to do with what I see as a fundamental gap between what theology really is vs. the way that the casual or not-so-deep understanding that many people have. The thought that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" has been translated into the concept that our lives are scripted, somehow. This is very comforting when life is good, not so when it goes bad. It is easy to rationalize and try to say something seemingly positive, yet cosmically short-sighted like "God chose you for ..."I think that there are even those that aren't willing to admit to my face that they think that either I or Vicky are being punished for our sins, or the sins of a previous generation. It's biblical, isn't it? God, got an answer for me, yet? Is Emma demon-possesed, or an angel? (She's neither!)
I'm trying to be brief, but I think that:
1> God designed the Universe, including the laws that govern it. This includes what I see as the miracle of evolution, but also encompasses the tragedies of hurricanes, earthquakes, and genetic mutation.
2> "Free Will, Free Choice" - the concept that we as individuals have choice in what we do both in relation to the present and future combines with #1 to make some very interesting combinations, combinations that in effect give us power that we don't completely understand.
This is, to my perhaps twisted mind, what makes the whole amnio/abortion/value of life/add your theology here - so completely perplexing. We've gained the technology to avoid what may be a part of humanity that can teach us the most - see what I mean? "What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me" rings in my ears. Or, should we embrace the opportunity to only produce fully capable persons (there's a whole other kettle of fish, yes, the definitions?). . .
3> I have been brought up to believe that, and have seen so many seeming examples of, God being involved in our lives. So then, the question becomes, why not this time? Like the woman who accused one of us of not praying enough, did I really screw that up? Was that enough reason to form a human being based upon that criteria? What about the "heathens" who have healthy kids?
I'm told that God exists where he sees the past, the present, and the future, should I have faith that this event has a greater, more positive impact than if it hadn't happened this way? That's where my hope lies. Without this, then #'s 1 and 2 make Emma's birth a random event in time, like a car accident where Sis decided to stop by the 7-11 instead of coming straight home, and was hit by a drunk driver who went through a red light. I think it was a "random event" in that sense. The question is, how do we deal with it as persons of faith?
If I want to continue to believe in God, then I have to trust Him. I have to take Him at His word. To do less makes Him not God any more. Did God cause this to happen? Yes, by overall design. Did He pick on me? I don't know, but I'd like to think that He didn't. Does He even owe me an explanation? Probably not.
So, to answer your question, I think those comments are made by people trying in their own naive and dismissive way to make the best of what they don't want to have to deal with. They should have their world rocked a little, and I intend to do so at every opportunity. Share the love, baby!I met a friend about 3 months ago, another Pastor who was very influential in my teen years. I hadn't seen him in about 20 years. When I showed him a picture of Emma, he looked at me square in the eye, grabbed my arm and said, "Well, I bet that's given you some interesting challenges." "Yes, sir", I said, and the conversation moved on. I love that man. No "I'm sorry", no "God Bless You", no bullshit. A true Man of God, as far as I'm concerned. He knew what it meant, acknowledged it, and left me in control of what happened next. Wisdom is hard to find, sometimes.
Embrace it when you find it.