Before worship on Sunday morning, I met our director of music, Elaine, for breakfast at Nova’s Bakery. When we went to leave, my car wouldn’t start, so Elaine gave me a lift to the church. The problem on this particular Sunday was that I was presiding at an afternoon wedding in nearby Concord and I didn’t have any time to dilly-dally. Immediately following worship, Elaine took me to her place so I could borrow her partner’s car. I hopped in the car and hightailed it to Concord with little time to spare. Whew!
After the wedding, it came time to go home, and I realized that I had no idea what the car looked like that I had driven to get there. I remembered it was some kind of SUV because I sat higher than I do in my VW Beetle. But I didn’t know the make or the color. I looked around and noticed that the church had at least three parking lots and they all seemed to be filled with SUVs. Thank God for remote key pads! I was able to wander around for a while, randomly pressing the button to unlock the door, and eventually one of the cars acknowledged me.
It set my mind to thinking on how oblivious I am sometimes about how I got to be where it is I happen to be. My life journey really has been quite incredible as I often recognize that I am planted in a place which was never my destination. And I wonder, what happened? How did I get here?
Now, some people would say that it is God who brings us to where we are. And I will admit that there have been times in my life when I clearly felt that was the case. Occasionally, it even feels like everything that has ever happened in my life has led me to be in a particular place, as if my life is a part of a grander plan than I ever imagined. (Actually, I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve ever felt this way.)
Most of the time, I suspect that I got to be where I am as a result of a series of single steps I’ve taken along the way. I run into a dead end and am forced to take an alternate route. I get side-tracked for a child. A relationship ends and the future I thought I had mapped out evaporates into thin air. I cross bridges that quickly burn behind me. I make a choice that leads me to an unexpected opportunity. Incrementally, step by step, I move from one place to another.
So, does God have anything to do with how I got to be where I happen to be? I’m not sure. I do know that I certainly can’t tell God where I want to go and expect to be led there. In fact, I often suspect that, if God is paying attention to such instructions, they only encourage him to mess with me and send me in the opposite direction. God certainly isn’t like a GPS system that tells me which way to turn and chides me when I’ve gotten off track.
Is it possible that God cares about every little move I make and choreographs them all so that I always end up where I need to be? That seems kind of silly to me. It also sounds like magical thinking, which might boost my feelings of self-importance in the universe, but it has little truth in it. On the other hand, is it possible that everything that happens in my life is completely random and it has nothing whatsoever to do with God’s agenda for creation, which is so much larger than my tiny little speck of a life on this speck of a planet?
All I can say for sure is that as the story of my life unfolds, there are opportunities along the way for me to grow in my relationship with God. And that makes my story part of a much larger story. It’s woven together with the stories of all God’s people, and it is going somewhere. If that’s the case, then how I get wherever it is I’m going must have something to do with God. I can stop wandering around pressing my key pad and hoping for a response. The way I got to be where I am is also my way home.