For the past four years or so I’ve read a daily devotional guide written by Sarah Young: “Jesus Calling.” The book, with daily, one-page devotional thoughts, is written as though Jesus himself were speaking to you: “Trust me to see you through this day;” “Feel my Presence with you in each moment;” that kind of thing.
While the book is decidedly theologically conservative, it also has — very gradually — allowed me to “let go and let God” (if you’ll pardon the cliché). I tend not to stress over things very much any more; rather, I allow events to unfold in the faith that whatever happens is what’s supposed to happen, and if something doesn’t get done, then it wasn’t meant to get done.
This opens up an interesting dichotomy: is what’s going on truly God’s steering the events of my life, or is it mere fate? As a person of faith, am I permitted to allow such qualities as fate and coincidence into my daily experiences? Or must every occurrence in my life be attributed to the will of God?
Until I give further thought to those questions, I’ll have to say that the answers boil down to a matter of my choice. I can choose to believe that what happens in this moment is dependent on what preceded it and is the result of choices I previously made, or I can choose to believe that I was the faithful follower of God’s intention, and that what occurred was what God had in mind from the start.
I think about the many biblical stories that have been left open to interpretation over the centuries. As a student at Union College (Barbourville, KY) I heard my religion professor, Dr. Robert Matthews, de-mystify the Crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites as recorded in the book of Exodus. He explained that the real miracle was not the parting of the sea per se, because there were winds that blew regularly at certain times of the year that would cause the sea to part. The actual parting was nothing more than a natural phenomenon. Rather, the real miracle was in the timing: by faithfully following God’s instruction, Moses and the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea at precisely the time they needed to be there in order to make it safely to the other side. So, we’re left with a choice: do we choose to believe that the parting of the Red Sea was a well-timed natural phenomenon, or do we choose to attribute the event totally to an act of God? The Bible is chock-full of such open-ended stories that leave us needing to make choices.
And so it is with “Jesus Calling.” As my day unfolds, do I choose to believe that the events contained within it are the natural, fateful occurrences that would have happened anyway, or do I choose to believe that Jesus plays a part in seeing that what needs to get done gets done?
For the record — and for the time being at this point in my life — it’s much more reassuring, sensible, and liberating to me to believe that Jesus is watching, guiding, and calling.