Thursday, April 23, 2015

The problem with "God's" will

There's a joke about a guy whose neighborhood is flooding. While standing on his porch, a guy in rowboat goes past, "Want a lift?" he asks, but the man says, "No, God will save me." The water keeps rising. Eventually he has to go the second floor, then the attic and finally out onto the roof. Rescuers come by but he tells them, "Don't worry, God will save me." The water keeps rising. Finally, he has to climb onto the chimney. A helicopter hovers and they drop a ladder down to him. "I'm ok!" He shouts, "God will protect me!"

Then the man drowns.

Dead, he arrives at the Pearly Gates. "God!" He says, "I did everything you ever asked of me! I believed you'd deliver me! What happened?"

And God says, "Sheesh, I sent you two boats and helicopter. What more did you want?"

I'm very dubious of God's will. Well, I'm not dubious of God-I assume he's got shit figured out. But I am very, very hesitant to believe anyone who thinks they know what God's will is. When I was young and thought I knew so much, my friends and I often attributed things to God's will: as in, I'm meant to be with him, it's God's will or That speeding ticket must've been God's will to teach me a lesson. *

Now, you and I could talk long into the night about fate, determinism, free-will, and whether or not God "teaches us lessons." I will only say that in my humble experience, people (myself included) will often "filter" God's will through their own perceptions. A not-so-nice way of saying that people use God as an excuse for their own poor choices or unfortunate situations. I try not to judge, but if a romantic interest ever says that it's God's will for you to be together, run away. 

So I guess my skepticism comes from seeing the repercussions of me and people I know acting on God's will. Of course, things were a lot simpler when I was still naive enough to think I'd go through life without any regrets. And hindsight is 20/20. So a score of years later I look back at a trail of regrets and transgressions and the most I can say is that I did the best I could at the time, but not always my best. Did God's will figure into any of that? I can only hope so, that some part of my life was used towards a part of the Great Plan. I probably won't ever know and so far, God's not sayin'. 

So, you ask, why am I thinking about all this? Because I've found myself back in a position I haven't been in a long while. I see a friend who, I think, is making some pretty big mistakes in her life, life altering, no "do overs" kind of mistakes and she's rationalizing a lot of it by saying she's following God's will or at least acting in accordance to what the bible tells her. I think she's missing the bigger picture. I think she's waving the helicopter away and she's drowning. 

Tell the truth and shame the devil, right? I could say these things to her face. Some I have, nicely, tried to point out but I'm met with a blank wall of stubbornness and denial. You can't change someone until they want to change. I want to tell her, look-you were on the Titanic and it sunk. You can pray all you want for God to raise it up, please God, just send me strong ships and winches and rope and when you raise it, I'll fix it up real nice: I'll clean off the mildew and water damage and oh, yeah, about that hole...well, I'll fix that too-nothing is too big with God's help! Where are you God? Why won't you send that stuff so I can raise the Titanic? She's so busy trying to stay afloat in the freezing water and praying for what she thinks is right that she doesn't notice the lifeboat right next to her.

There are times you can plan and grow and there are times you need to get into survival mode. If that's not in Psalms, then it should be.

I try and be a friend, let her vent, support her as much as I can. That is all I can do. That is the best I can do.  A long time ago, an old-timer told me, "If you go to bed at night and can honestly say you did the best you could all day, then you've done God's will."


* Dougie, another old friend and old-timer (God rest his soul), told me that God doesn't test people. But life and bad things happen and God's there if you need God. So that's what I believe, cause Dougie talked a lot but he ain't never talked shit.