Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Vector Physics and Self-Determination

You know the whole "don't make plans because God's gonna change them" thing? I hate it when people say that to my dreams or when they excuse their past inability to try with a "God closed that door." All they're really saying is that fate and destiny is inevitable, so we really shouldn't try to rock the boat, and our failures aren't our own responsibilities.

Well earthlings, I am here to rock the boat.

Gladys Aylward had merely heard about China, but she spent all her time slaving to earn enough to get there. She didn't believe God was "changing" the plan for her or "closing a door" when she found herself in Russia with no train forward. And thousands of orphans were glad she didn't. Can you imagine if she had been a modern American Christian? "I wanted to be a missionary to China, but God closed that door." Amy Carmicheal broke British Law in India and went through closed temple doors to kidnap the young temple slaves. Unloved orphans received homes and young girls were saved from the unspeakable. I'm sure they were glad Amy didn't give a rat's tail about 'closed doors.'

Sometimes God does close doors. But not getting into a certain school, not having money or transportation, your family saying 'no,' where a mission organization wants you, violence, what your church says, what your government says--all these things are not closed doors. Breaking a promise or throwing away a dream for an inconvenience or a calling--which for most Christians is just a feeling that you'll like something else better--is not God's closed door. It's weakness. Break down that door, soldiers!*

Let me illustrate with a common vector physics problem.

This is a river                         
__D_*\*/*____________ _B_/\_boatman's house__________Z_

<--------------   <------------ The river's got a strong current (Vector C)

____________________A<--->_this is the boatman's boat________
      The boatman wants to get to his house. Which way should he go?

You may think he should aim straight for his house.  But physicists will often ask their students to calculate by vectors. And when you add the Vector line from AB together with Vector C, and you find the line that's Vector AD. The boatman would end up at Point D! That's not his house! There are spikey things there!

That's how it is often if we follow the most obvious (and easiest) plan. We end up somewhere entirely wrong. And sometimes that's what God wanted, and he'll make us drag our boat up the river bank back to point B to teach us something important along the way. But say I want to get to point B, and I trust God to get me there in the end--'cuz he gave me the desire to get there! I will keep my eye on point B, even though God asks me to aim for point Z, and the current and my effort will together bring me to point B. God will never tell me just to put my boat on the river and float off into oblivion while people suffer on the riverbanks. Either way, I will get to point B.

Read the promises of Revelations 2:17, 2:25-29, 3:5, 3:11-13, and 3:21. They speak about the one who overcomes, who conquers. This isn't someone who just holds on to their faith, enduring while God tosses them along the rivers of life. This is someone who prays, like Jabez, that God will "expand my territory" 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Yes, Jabez wants to be kept from pain, but not because he's sitting around waiting for fulfillment of his "calling." He wants protection from pain 'cuz he's goin' out there to cause some!**

So please, people, stop telling us that God might change our plans, that we shouldn't want so badly to marry a certain person or do mission work in a certain place. God knows what he's doing with our dreams and he doesn't need your help: you're honestly just being like the dream killer in the movie Tooth Fairy, and it's really annoying. Tell me instead to love God with such an enduring passion that I will give anything and everything for his kingdom. Tell me to overcome my pride, my financial obstacles, my stubbornness--whatever might stop me from goin' up in flames for his cause. You either feed this fire, or step aside to watch the fireworks. You don't cast doubt on a phoenix.

*When your action will harm someone else--for example, if your mission to China will sacrifice healthcare for your handicapped child--then we can talk about closed doors. But even then, remember that David Livingstone buried two wives and several children on his mission to save Africans from slave traders. If the person affected by your choice is willing and able to sacrifice, then so, too, should you. If not--then sure, you may have a closed door. Then again, William Carey had a wife who went insane because she couldn't handle his mission work in India. He stayed in India anyway, translated the Bible to several languages, and began the movement ending the practice of sati, or widow burning. Was it worth it? He thought so. Women saved from sati thought so. "Whoever does not hate his father and mother for my sake is not worthy of me," Jesus said, not to say that we ought to hate our families, but to say that our love for Him should so far exceed anything else that all other emotions seem base in comparison. A calling should not revolve around what we like or don't like. It should revolve around meeting other peoples' need.

**Please understand this sentence in light of "for our battle is not against flesh and blood..."

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