I finished the Mark Batterson book In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day today. It's a really good book, and it has given me a lot to think about. As it "sinks in" I'm sure I'll be posting more here. I already have a number of quotes marked for this very purpose :)
If you haven't read the book, here's the basic premise: Benaiah gets mentioned in 2 Sam 23:20-21. It's one of those obscure passages that usually gets skipped over, but Batterson focuses on one little part: the part where it says he killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day. It was not a "normal" thing to do. It was a situation where most folks would have run the other way. But Benaiah saw it as an opportunity rather than a problem. Batterson suggests that we miss out on our greatest divine appointments when we try to "play it safe."
He ends the book by re-asserting something that he said at the beginning... but of all the things he says, this is probably the one that makes me the most uncomfortable. Here's the quote:
"God is in the business of strategically positioning us in the right place at the right time. A sense of destiny is our birthright as followers of Christ. God is awfully good at getting us where He wants us to go. But here's the catch: The right place often seems like the wrong place, and the right time often seems like the wrong time."
I think I gave up on having a "destiny" when I was in my mid twenties. The dream was very much alive when I was younger, but the dream I was chasing wound up being an empty one. In many ways, I made it further and faster than I had ever dreamed possible... but I was running in the wrong direction.
Batterson believes that God will get us where He wants us to go... but I don't really feel any sense of "destiny" about being in Florida. I don't believe that God called me here. I called myself here. I made a judgment call based on the openings that were available to me. I could have just as easily wound up somewhere else. I can't even say that I came here chasing a dream. I came here because I was running from a nightmare.
But even more, I can't say that I really believe in that sort of "destiny" anymore. In Pentecostal churches, we often talked about being "in the center of God's will" or His "perfect will" for our lives. That's a very romantic notion when you're young and have your life ahead of you... but as time goes on, you can't help but feel as though there are no more golden opportunities waiting in the wings for you. Once you're out of that "perfect will," everything else is somewhat less than perfect. So if you don't do everything perfect, you blew it... God had to find someone else.
I don't believe that sort of thing anymore. We make choices--some of them good, some of them bad--but God doesn't give up on us. There are consequences, but there is also grace!
If I look at my circumstances, there are certianly many things that I can say were God-ordained. For example, everything that fell into place at just the right time for me to grasp the concept of God's grace for the first time... a lot of things had to line up just right for that to happen. It started with a short memory verse that was actually a little discouraging... that set me up to read a short book that challenged what I believed about grace... and that set me up to have a life-changing conversation.
I'm extremely grateful that things worked out the way that they did... but I can't say that it absolutely had to happen in here Florida. If I had chosen to run to another city, I believe that God would have set up an alternate set of circumstances to bring me to the same realization about grace... I just probably wouldn't have gotten baptized outside in December if I was living in Colorado :P
So am I in the right place at the right time? I don't know. If the right place seems like the wrong place... how would you ever know for sure anyhow?