Tuesday, October 2, 2012

theological hour

Here are some phrases that I hear often, and which I don't generally like hearing because the person saying something nearly always either means something else, or does not understand the theological implications of the statement.

1. God is in the details.
2. God is in the little things.
3. Everything happens for a reason.
4. For some reason, God must want you to be here right now.

Let me explain a little bit. I do not subscribe to the thought that God plans everything in our lives, from what we eat for breakfast to where we attend college, from our careers to our extracurricular activities. God cares for us deeply, and cares for the details of our lives, but I don't think he monitors them like a chess game. And it bothers me on a gut level too, because something in these phrases either diminishes or qualifies the power of God - that God has to have a reason (God does not have to) or that God is busier in the details than the grand narrative.

And while the details can be painful, joyful, important, they have also all been lived before (which gives me great comfort) and I am more interested in the grand narrative anyway. It comforts and lifts and redeems me that God loves me, but moreover that he loves creation as a whole.

My perspective shifted a little bit this past Sunday, however, when I found myself driving for six hours with my room mate Liz when we had to drop her sister off at the station in Chicago. She missed her train time table, and I volunteered to borrow a car from a friend and take them (it would take less than two hours, I figured). Wrong. We got lost so many times it was absurd, both suffering from a complete lack of directional instinct. Always on the right road, always the wrong direction. Sometimes the wrong road, too. Between laughing and being vaguely hysterical, I began to think about "Everything happens for a reason" and "God is in the little things." No, I thought, this is just plain stupid. But the issue I have with these statements is that I understand them from a selfish perspective - that the reason for things must be my benefit somehow, and the little things must be important somehow to me. 

Look at getting lost for an absurd six hours, what should have taken forty minutes. It was frustrating, inconvenient, exhausting and stressful. But really, I didn't have anywhere pressing to be. It felt pointless, but I technically had the time to drive for six hours. So how do I know that wasn't enormously important for someone else? What change did my car make taking up space where and when it did? I don't know.

pfffff ramblings. I'm coming around to the concept of "reasons," however. Maybe a little.

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