Perspectives from the Porch and Other Perches #5
“Stan”ding on the Sands
11:00 AM Sunday, September 30 . . . It was Sue’s birthday. So she got to choose where we went to worship with the congregation of XXXXX XXXXXX. The pastor devoted a large portion of his sermon to review the first chapter of Ephesians and very ably approached what some call a great antinomy (two truths in apparent contradiction that must be held in tension) of Scripture and life: Is God absolutely sovereign over everything? Do we have freedom to make choices? YES! That raised a bit of family follow-up discussion . . . Lauren recalled my oft used sketch of a mountain with one slope labeled “God’s Sovereignty” and the other, “Man’s Responsibility.” The peak, some of you may recall, is fogged over with a great cloud so that no one can discern where the two actually meet. God’s in control of all things. We have the responsibility to make choices.
4:00 PM Monday, October 1 . . . Late afternoon found me choosing to head out for a contemplative walk on the sands of Singing Beach. Isn’t that what one does when on sabbatical? Grabbing one of the big red juicy Macintosh apples Sue had recently brought home, I embarked on my adventure. Arriving at the beach, I spotted one other lone figure and he was strolling toward the far end. Extrovert that I am, I headed toward the other. But having soon run out of beach, we did an about face. As the distance closed between us a familiar voice called out, “I was just thinking of you, David. Twenty years ago today you and I were backpacking in the White Mountains and you brought a cupcake to celebrate my 50th birthday. And here you are!”
It was Stan. Back in the day, Stan and I had backpacked in the “Whites.” Sometimes it was with a group of men. Other times – just the two of us. On that particular occasion the two of us had hiked up Little Haystack, traversed the Knife’s Edge and descended from atop Mt. Lincoln. Tucked safely away in my pack were a couple of Tastykake Cupcakes complete with a candle for Stan’s in celebration of his chronological milestone. On this afternoon, standing still on the sand, we reflected naturally on how fast the years are flying by. It was a refreshing conversation, catching up on life and family stuff, recalling memories of the not “so long ago and far away.”
6:00 PM Thursday, October 4 . . . So back to my pastoral colleague’s questions. I chose to go to the beach Monday afternoon. Not my routine. Stan chose to go to the beach that same afternoon . . . and time. I claim no knowledge of his routine and the furthest thing from my mind that day was my friend’s birth date. Is God in control of all things? And do we have freedom to choose? Yes! You will never ever convince me that things “just happen.” More times than we recognize, God in his sovereignty gives us the pleasure of a great serendipity. Only one ingredient was lacking – cupcakes. But the Mac was tasty too . . . and a better choice!