Back in college, which was a LONG time ago for this old man, I was involved in a heated debate with my best friend, Keith. This debate is actually one of my favorite memories from that time in my life. Let me set the scene for you: we lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment, it was a Sunday afternoon, so we were watching the NFL. You know, cuz sports. It was the middle of winter, and in Iowa, those winters were bitter. We were cheap ass mofos, so we decided to save some money by not using the heater. Picture if you will two dudes sitting in their chairs wearing three layers of clothing, wrapped in comforters, watching football and talking in a frigid apartment. So frigid, in fact, that we could see our breath as we spoke. We were not smart, but we saved a couple dollars!
We watched football while our feet froze. We started discussing predestination versus free will. The college we went to was a liberal arts college with a Reformed Church of America foundation. Keith was raised in the Reformed Church his entire life, so he was indoctrinated with predestination. I was raised non-denominational my entire life, so my belief was firmly indoctrinated in free will. Arguments were passed back and forth between us like the pigskin being tossed around on the tv. Another way of putting it: the ONLY heat in the apartment that day came from the hot air being spewed out of our mouths as we attempted to convert the other guy to our theological point of view.
Good times. I miss those times.
Let’s see...the scene has been set, the basis of the story has been laid out. What am I forgetting here? AH YES, how about the definitions of “destiny” and “free will.” That might be helpful.
Destiny: “the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. Fate.”
Free will: “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion.
Two concepts that are in direct opposition each other. You can see the dilemma here, especially with two frozen football fanatics frantically debating what they believe to be ultimate truth! By the end of the game, we had come to an agreement. Our final assessment of God’s control in our life boiled down to this statement: God gave us free will to make our own choices, yet He is all knowing and therefore KNOWS what we will choose; once we actually make the choice, it becomes destiny. After a couple of hours of discussion, we both sat there satisfied with our conclusion. I can’t remember who was satisfied with the conclusion of the football game.
All my life, I’ve felt destined for more, be it occupationally, be it socially, be it spiritually. More recently, this feeling of predestination has come in the form of my musical career. I’ve been toiling as a metal drummer since 1994. Though I’ve had some success locally with my bands, I’ve never achieved the status of “paid professional musician” that I would love to claim. There have been many times over the past decade that I thought about giving up on my musical aspirations, simply because I didn’t see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I felt as though I would always be chasing a dream, a destiny, that was just out of reach, similar to the carrot leading the horse.
So I changed my dream.
After a lot of thought, keeping destiny and free will in mind, I’ve decided that the destination that I’ve been seeking isn’t nearly as important as the journey in getting there. The fact that God knows my fate, that He knows what’s going to happen in the future, brings me great comfort. I’ve finally come to a place where I can let go of the “destiny” part and just focus on the “free will” part. There are so many things that are out of our control. In fact, sometimes I think control is 100% an illusion. All I can do is focus on my choices, work hard to be the best drummer and musician possible (that’s the new dream), and trust that in the end, those choices and hard work will lead me to the place where GOD wants me to be, not where I THINK my destination should be.
I love serving a God who knows what’s best for me and knows how the twists and turns of my story will go, and yet has decided to let me make the choices that will lead me to the final chapter of my life. Friends, our job is the free will, and it’s a pretty kick ass job. God loves us so much that He lets us have an amazingly huge part in how our story goes with the choices we make in our lives. That said, in my opinion, life is so much better when we let God be God, and let Him worry about the job of destiny.