“…..in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16)
As I once thought about my inner responses to adverse circumstances I was drawn irresistibly to the theology factor. What we truly believe seems to have set us up- both for success and for failure.
Consider a few positive examples from my life, then a few negative examples which seem to support the idea that theology played a major role in who we have become and continues to play a major role in what we are yet to become.
Theology Provides Protection. More than therapy to heal the broken, perhaps, theology builds an immune system to keep a person from breaking in the first place. Here’s how it worked for me.
I believe I’m finite. I exulted in the confidence of what God had revealed for sure- so sure that all believers of all time would affirm it. But I concluded that most things I’d never figure out no matter how long I investigated and contemplated- things about God’s infinities, and things about my finitude. Like the meanings of my past, the hopes for my future, the reasons for my circumstances, the goings-on of my inner self. I’m comfortable with that ambiguity about life, now, though I recognize others may not be. Some seem to need to have everything settled for sure.
For an inquisitive thinker and an intense activist, the realization of one’s finitude can be a marvelous relaxant and stabilizer. Besides, lowered expectancies of oneself is a doorway to making room for others. Maybe they’re finite, too- and in a different configuration, yet! That realization could make a peacemaker out of a person.
I believe I’m fallen. And so are others. So I expect them to behave that way and that helps make allowances for their failures, which doesn’t come to me naturally. I haven’t figured out all the ramifications of the doctrine of the fall for protecting me from wrong thinking about myself and others, but on the larger scale, that doctrine has been a powerful deliverer in my life.
Yet I believe I’m of value. I live with the acute realization of my own finitude and fallenness, but the contemporary assures me I cannot be truly free and fulfilled if I put a low value on self. If I measure my worth by what I own, how much fun I’m having, and how successful people recognize me to be, I’ve given in to the world’s value system and have doomed myself to bondage and unfufillment because those things- no matter how abundant- cannot liberate me nor fill me up. Yet the truth is that I’m worth a lot!
- I’m a designer brand. I’m valuable not because of what I own or have done but because of how God designed me. He created me on his pattern. I have his insignia stamped on me. I’m an image bearer of the Infinite One and that’s impressive, no matter what others may think of me.
- *I have a very high sticker price. God himself valued me so highly he paid an outrageous price to buy me back from my slave-holder, my bondage to stuff, fun, and an inflated self-image. I’m of infinite worth to God, not for my achievements or possessions, but because he invested in me the life of his own Son.
- Those values are shared by all believers, but I have a value no one else shares. I have a unique destiny. God not only created me to bear his family likeness, he not only purchased me with the life of his only Son, but he did so on purpose. He has a purpose for me, something he wants to accomplish on earth through me. No matter how the world or the church may evaluate my contribution, the grand Designer valued me enough to plan my unique role to bring him the greatest possible honor. That’s why I’m proud to be a home maker. I try to be the best cook, housekeeper, gardener, and nurse I know how. I’m not the best at any of those, to be sure, but I give it my best because it’s my assignment, God’s purpose for me. And I greatly enjoy it, never fret about what I’d rather be doing, about what might have been. Much less compare my “value” to others with higher callings and greater gifts.
- And there’s something Worth is often judged by the company a person keeps- royalty, skid row- whatever. And I’m a member of high society- the highest! Incredible as it may seem, God has planned my life around him, uninterrupted companionship with the greatest Lover who ever lived. Living a life planned by the master Designer of the planets, the suns, and every atom, constant companion of the King of Kings . Indeed, theology can liberate and fill a person full.