Choosing my own adventure

I’m not a big believer in predetermined destinies. I don’t believe that God has my entire life mapped out and that every little obstacle is a direct result of His work. Certainly, I believe in God and His son, my Saviour, Jesus Christ. I just don’t believe that God has already decided how (or when) my story ends.

You see, to believe that He has predetermined my destiny would mean that I have to believe that He intentionally set out to cause me pain. I would have to believe that God “killed” my husband because He has a “better/bigger” plan for me. And I don’t believe that to be true because I don’t believe my God would cause intentional pain; He is a merciful and loving God.

I believe in a God who has given people free will to decide for themselves what they want out of life. I believe in a God who offers a guiding hand through faith and prayer – but one who ultimately lets each of us make the choices that will impact and influence our futures.

Certainly, I believe that He has a few scenarios in mind for us, and I’m sure that He wishes we’d make decisions that gave us certain endings. But I think He lets us make those decisions. Kind of like those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books from my childhood that allowed for a different ending to the story based on what you wanted the characters to do next. The author gives you choices that lead you to a dozen or more possible endings. And sometimes one choice will lead you back to a place that you might have gone with other choices; you’ve just arrived by a different route.

Of course, sometimes readers don’t like any of the choices and endings, so they go out and create “fan fiction” to change the ending – or to create a new book altogether – because they love the characters so much that they want to keep them going.

Anyhow, it would seem that God has presented me with a new challenge – and a new set of options to go along with it – and now I need to decide which page to turn to next. All in the hopes that the next choice will lead me to an ending that I want, or to an ending that I don’t know I want but that I will love once I get there.

This latest challenge has presented several options, but none of them are the ones I want. Each option (at least on the surface) seems to mean pain, sadness, or turning away from my moral code. I’m trying to think through each option; to anticipate the course that each would send me down. I’m trying to determine which option will get me back to the happy endings. I’m trying to decide which form of sadness and pain I can accept at this point in my life – because none of the visible options are ones of joy and laughter.

If I were the author of my own book, I would be able to write each page as I desired – all with the aim of the ending I wanted. But I’m not; I am merely the one who decides which options to pick from the book that God is writing for me. This is OK, I suppose because it means that I will be surprised by the outcome. And surprises are good. Right?

UPDATE: When I wrote this story, all of the options seemed very upsetting. But since then, I’ve read through a couple of pages with friends and I may have another option or two to think about; better, happier options. And maybe one of those new options will get me back to the ending I was hoping for.

[That’s a photo from just before the top of Kamiak Butte’s lower vista. The two paths lead to the same place, though one is an easy, peaceful stroll and the other is a rocky, clamber. I’ve taken both paths, and have never been disappointed. Certainly a good metaphor for life?]

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