Recently, I watched a television program that piqued my interest. The central character reflected upon a string of tragic events in her life. She said, “I never realized that I’d chosen it.” The line was delivered sarcastically.
From quite an early age, misfortune had surrounded this person. The people she loved kept on dying. As a result, she avoided getting close to anyone because they could end up being killed as well. Her life was a bit of a mess. She numbed the pain through alcohol.
This woman is fictional. Nevertheless, her words really made me think.
How much of our lives are the result of choices we have made? How much of the path has been predetermined?
I am certain that there are some things we have no control over. Some examples – we don’t choose “what we are born into” – namely, our biological parents and family, ethnic and religious heritage, economic status, country of origin, et cetera.
I am also inclined to believe that we still have free will (with its rewards and consequences).
I have a difficult time getting my mind around the possibility that all the details of our lives have been predetermined.
From Matthew, Chapter 26: “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’”
This was the first of three such prayers of Jesus to the Father. One could read these words and conclude that Jesus had sincere hopes of there being yet another way. God can do all things, so why not change course and find a different method? Did it have to be Jesus as a sacrificial lamb?
In the end, that plan did not change.
As a result, the fate of our souls has been sealed, for those who accept God’s grace through Christ.
Did you ever realize that we all have been chosen?
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.