Can’t imagine what the future holds,¹ but I know that I have made my choice.
And this is where I stand until He leads me on, and I will listen to His voice.
-Twila Paris, “I Will Listen to His Voice.” © Ariose Music.
A fellow blogger and I made each other’s acquaintance about a year ago. He and I seem to have parted company, and that’s OK. Life’s vicissitudes and exhaustions—and simply the passage of time—can affect our sense of what we need to spend time with. Although this writer and I have shown respect and appreciation for each other, the distance between our respective moorings and philosophies probably keeps us from thinking there’s much point in continuing to listen to each other. (Or at least that is how I would size it up.) He is much more erudite in terms of thinking, and I’ve learned some things from him. He is probably a better writer. He is deeply entrenched in his feeling that we do not have control over our own choices, though. For him, it seems that everything is filtered through that notion, and he loses me there.
He certainly respects God’s place in the world, as I do I. On the surface, it might seem that someone who feels God controls everything has a greater, deeper respect. My demurrer is simply this: I have a different way of looking at it, and neither of us can assuredly know. Whatever the spiritually existential reality turns out to be, I believe I am responsible, within my sphere, for living and choosing and being and doing. All those things involve my will as manifest in time and space. If that will turns out to be illusory, so be it. For now, my sense is that I do in fact have choices, so those choices are what I prefer to emphasize, as opposed to a philosophy of how those choices might all be part of a grand play on a stage.
Like you, I have made several seriously consequential choices in my life. One lives with consequences, and one hopes that most of the consequences can be good—if most of the choices themselves are good, that is.
I have been long been in a time of feeling that God is silent in my life, and that most certainly is not my choice. If I’m in some sense right about His silence ( ≈ lack of discernible “presence”), I don’t know why a sovereign God would want this separation, this desolation. Maybe it has little or nothing to do with choices either of us has made, I know. Yet I feel responsible to choose my path while languishing here within time and space. I have at various points retreated to a meditation I read in J.B. Phillips’s collection entitled For This Day. Phillips, whose New Testament paraphrase has also been a companion of mine for decades, said this:
It appears to me, comparing my experience with that of many friends, that once one has seriously enlisted on the side of God and his purpose, considerable spiritual opposition is provoked and encountered. . . . Should they once begin to embark on real living and to assist in building the Kingdom of God, then the attack begins! – J.B. Phillips, For This Day (emphasis his)
I am feeling like the victim of a prolonged, intensifying attack now. (I do not have the illusion that I have to this point done anything really significant in building the Kingdom of God, mind you, but I do have that Kingdom embedded in my soul.) Am I being spiritually “opposed” because of choices I’ve made for Him? More than once, I would say. I could point to three or four key events in my life, but I could well be exaggerating my own place in God’s mind. Time will tell. Maybe. For now, I have made my choice: to be one of His, so far as I can do that. God, help me remain committed to that choice.
¹ This is the first line of the final chorus, whereas the prior choruses have “I don’t know the way to go from here” and “I cannot imagine what will come,” respectively, at this point. For the full poem, go here.