Superhuman Life No.111

A Destiny That Shapes Our Ends

by Ernest O'Neill

If reality is that the creator of the world has made us in his son so that he can live the life through us that he has planned, how does he do that without making us robots ? Through two remarkable factors in our life here on this planet - neither of which seem to be under the control of our own wills. One is the part played by providence in our lives and the other is the part played by gifts or talents that we all possess to a greater or lesser degree.

Winston Churchill described providence like this: "The longer one lives, the more one realizes that everything depends upon chance, and the harder it is to believe that this omnipotent factor in human affairs arises simply from the blind interplay of events. Chance, Fortune, Luck, Destiny, Fate, Providence seem to me only different ways of expressing the same thing, to wit, that a man's own contribution to his life story is continually dominated by an external superior power. Most of us can remember incidents in our lives that attest to the same reality - people we met at certain crucial times in our lives, events that influenced the way we spent the next ten or twenty years. Yet these incidents seemed to be pure chance that we could not explain or have foreseen; often they came right out of the blue and had no apparent connection with anything that preceded or followed them. Others were simply unexpected turns that our lives took or people that we met just once and never saw again.

The same kind of chance or luck or providence appears to govern some of the biggest changes or developments that take place in the larger life of nations and history itself. Often the direction of a war depends on an outstanding leader who comes to the fore at the right time or on an insignificant change in weather or location; these unforeseen and unexpected incidents have governed the outcome of most of the wars in recent times. Similarly, the development of civilization has been greatly helped or hindered by inventions or disasters that were under no human being's control, yet the very future of humanity depended on them. Diseases and their cures, changes in weather and climate, discoveries of natural processes have spelt the difference between survival and destruction among peoples and nations. Again and again the whole direction of a war has been changed by a crucial battle being lost or won or by the emergence of a leader who had never been noticed before that time. Similarly, inventions in medicine or weaponry or engineering have opened up huge areas of discovery and progress that no one had anticipated. One might almost say that the main movements of human history have occurred through events and people that no human will produced or no human mind foresaw.

The fact that these phenomena led to so much order and progress led one of our poets to write "there's a destiny that shapes our ends - rough-hew them though we will". It's also why the old German military leader, Bismarck, said it's important to "listen for the footsteps of God". Either mindless chance brings these things about or a superior mind foresees the developments that result from our free actions and acts deliberately to guide them towards resolution rather than chaos. This is why Paul wrote to the Ephesians "according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will" and why so many of us are familiar with the saying that "all things work together for good to those who love God". Theodicy is the way God exercises his will without coercing our wills and one can see how this works out when we look at the many incidents in our lives which we cannot attribute to our own wisdom or fault. Obviously our lives are greatly influenced by events beyond our control even though we continue to exercise our own free wills.

The same kind of direction in our lives occurs from another phenomenon over which we have as little control. This is the "talents" with which we're born. Often when an outstanding musician is asked about his great talent or a singer about her voice, they will both answer that they just do what they do. They don't think it is their cleverness --they just sing or play like the rest of us, but their talent makes them sound far better. It's the same with most of us who have talents that others notice - we just do what others do, but our talent makes our performance much better. Now the truth is that we were all born with certain abilities and society calls some of them talents because they stand out from the norm. But the truth is that all of us have little abilities to do certain things better than we do others - these are gifts given to us by our creator. You have some - nobody - not even you - may notice them, but sometimes someone will notice you doing something that you never think about - you just do it ! That is one of the ways our creator guides our lives or "has works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them". It's yet another way in which Christ within us is moving our lives along our Creator's plan.

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