Do you ever feel like when you plan something, God laughs? Maybe it’s appropriate that I’m thinking this on April Fool’s Day. Jokes are everywhere in Australia, including our morning news programs.
Let me tell you what I’m talking about: This morning on the ABC (Australia Broadcast Company) has a morning show with two excellent journalists. They went through the headlines, ending with a big announcement that they were leaving the show. Today’s show was their last. The male presenter delivered the news earnestly and I was disappointed, until the female presenter started rolling her eyes at him. It was all an April Fool’s Day prank. Suddenly, the disappointment left and I just felt… deflated.
That’s what planning is like with God. You can plan and you can make announcements and He might just start rolling His eyes at you, undoing all the seriousness of your idea. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Other times, it’s just frustrating to feel out of control of your own life.
That’s what happened last week with the Atheist Wife and I. In the middle of a week where we both needed to be productive and on the ball, both of us got colds. She had to stay home and rest for two whole days. I, meanwhile, didn’t have the option to not work and I slogged through my assignments with a feeling of being made out of peanut butter. As well intentioned as we both were, it meant nothing in the face of constantly changing reality.
There’s always an interesting difference between the Atheist Wife’s reaction and mine. Both are equally accepting of what we cannot change, but the way we come to accept that fact is different. For her, it’s the cosmic chance of the universe that has created this turn of events. For me, it’s still chance, but when I consider the One who is watching over it all, I look for a meaning behind the chance, a lesson always in session that I can take a note from.
For her, the things to learn are random. For me, they are directed. Neither of these views are inherently better than another and they don’t just come about because one of us believes in God and the other does not. Instead, they represent the difference of a timeline of personal change.
This is her timeline:
It has a beginning and an end and that’s all there is. But the lessons she learns overlap as she moves forward. She is constantly learning in this recursive process of going back and forth in her own experience of existence.
Mine is more like this:
God is outside of time and within it, unbound by any domain. I, meanwhile, am inside time, which I experience linearly. On one side, there is life. On the other, there is death. And as far as I know, I will experience these two planes distinctly, still bound by finite experience. And no matter what existence I have, there is the recursive process of learning.
My process of living is contained within something else, it has a broader context of meaning than my wife’s. So this last week, while my life was feeling like a joke that was also a treadmill that I was definitely not in shape enough to keep the pace with – I was looking at God going, “Is this because April 1 is next week?”
To be honest, I like my wife’s recursive way of looking at things better. It’s simple, it doesn’t require too much thought, and it is something I can understand as easily as I understand instant coffee. But faith makes me believe that it’s all more complicated than that. Even more complicated than the little picture I drew on my computer. More complicated than I can ever understand or control.
My wife and I both know that we can’t control many of the parts of our lives and the visible effect of that is the same – “screw it, just keep trucking.” But I am constantly left wondering, what is God trying to tell me with this? As He is all and through all, I know that whatever happens is part of His infinity. Instead of being so simple, it’s all so very complex.
You have probably realized that this philosphical and theological rumination is just me giving an excuse for not living up to the stated goals of last week. It would have been simpler to just say, “We were both too sick to do any blogging.” But just as God is not simple, neither is my excuse.
At this point, you have two options: you can be mad at me for wasting your time on a simple timeline, much like my wife would. Or, you can ask yourself what role this waste of time will play in the lessons God may be trying to teach you in the much more complex world that faith creates for the believer.
And in that case, I hope you will forgive me, both for last week and for today’s ramblings.