Because I am, apparently, a cynical person, I have to always first mention the specific things that distracted me. Don’t worry, I’ll leave aside things I’ve mentioned before.
It seems that Warren is advocating a bit of predestination here. Did God plan every choice I’ll make? And if so, do I really have any choices? And if not, then why does it matter if I’m obedient? This sort of question bothers me because it gets at the core of justice, mercy, and identity. If I don’t have freedom to choose, then how can God be just if I “choose” not to follow him and he punishes me for it? There’s a fine line Warren approaches here, and his lack of subtlety worries me that he teaches the wrong part.
Not that I’m advocating any lack of omniscience in God. He certainly knows what choices we will make, because he does know us better than we know ourselves. He did plan our identities. He planned our spirits and planned the bodies we would inhabit. He knew what our capabilities would be and planned to put us in situations that would best teach us and let us use those abilities to further his work.
Again delving into my own religion and not general Christian beliefs, I believe in a pre-earth life. God created our spirits and we lived with Him for a time before we were sent to live in our physical bodies. In that time, He chose some of us as prophets, as leaders, and so on. How detailed was this foreordination? I’m not sure. It was not something forced upon us, but a calling, and it is something we could then and still now can reject by our choices. If we choose not to follow Christ, then we lose the privilege of the blessings he set before us.
When I was 18 I received a patriarchal blessing. (Don’t worry, I’ll bring this all back again). A patriarch in the LDS church is a priesthood holder set apart to give blessings of instruction and insight. These blessings are much like those given by Adam to his seed, or by Isaac to Jacob, or by Jacob (Israel) to his sons. Anyway, in mind I was told that God knew me in the pre-earth life, and that He “observed my humility and diligence.”
It’s ok, you can laugh now. Knowing me you know that I am neither humble nor particularly diligent.
I had a discussion once with a mission companion. He was struggling with obeying the rules strictly. He said “that’s just not me.” And that’s when it all came clear to me. Maybe I wasn’t living life in a particularly humble or diligent manner. But God knows me better than I know myself. Inside, my spirit, my core, I had a humble nature. I just have lived on Earth in a way to bury it.
God knows what we’re capable of, and He has set us so that our strengths, and even our weaknesses, can be used for His work.
So the point of the chapter is that we’re not an accident. God knew, planned on, in fact, the adverse circumstances we would be in. Out sorrows and disadvantages are not punishments. They are the things God knew would be able to pull our best selves out.
Point to Ponder: I am not an Accident.
My compulsive tendencies, my ADHD, these are not curses. These are the things God gave to test and try me. And given those traits, which God planned in me, I am suited for the purposes he has for me. I’m not unwanted, no matter how the world around me makes me feel. In fact, I am needed.
Verse to Remember: Isaiah 44:2 (KJV version): “Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb.”
God planned me before I was even born. Before I was even conceived in fact.
Question to Consider: I know that God uniquely created me. What arezas of my personality, background, and phsyical appearance am I struggling to accept?
Well, as I mentioned before, I have personality disorders: Depression, ADHD, compulsive tendencies. These are not just things that I’ve developed, they are a part of my genetic makeup. Do thy cause unhappiness? Sometimes. But part of the plan God has is learning to cope with these things, or even use them. I have become largely at peace with a lot of them, at least in terms of how I think of myself. I still struggle with adjusting my life to live with them appropriately.