Many people’s lives do not turn out as they imagined in childhood they might. On 21 April 1926 a young girl named Elizabeth was born to a rather special family. Her father was a quiet man, whose real importance only lay in the fact that his brother was the King of England (and a few other places). Elizabeth, I guess, grew up in an era when an upper class woman would have been thrilled with a comfortable life, a husband of some standing, a family and maybe a country estate with horses. By the time young Elizabeth had turned 11 things had changed rather radically. Her uncle had abdicated as King, her father had become King and she was next in the line of succession. At the age of 26, this wife and mother of two young children became Queen Elizabeth II. This week marks the 60th anniversary of her father’s death and later this year will mark the 60th anniversary of her coronation as Queen. Whatever her subjects (especially those in the colonies) might make of a constitutional monarch in the 21st Century, her life has certainly been extra- ordinary. Sixty years is a very long time to do any job, especially one in your childhood you never imagined would come your way.
It is often argued that we shape our destiny, but in many ways we respond to our destiny, rather than creating it from scratch. Quite often our adult lives do not match our childhood expectations. On the other hand, sometimes through life we are given opportunities to escape what seemed to be our destiny. We do occasionally come to a fork in the road and the decisions we make on a particular day, or in a moment, can lead us inevitably and conclusively to our destiny.
When believers talk about God having plans and purposes for our lives, the interplay between the ordained and the parts we control is often mysterious. Clearly so much is a matter of fate or destiny. So much of who we are is determined by our genes, biology and circumstances way beyond our control. On the other hand our lifestyle choices, our determination, our willingness to labour, our integrity and our will, all contribute hugely to who we are.
Living life in partnership with the God of creation can be so special. Trusting in God’s sovereign will, while creatively responding to what is dealt us, can be one of life’s greatest joys. Accepting who we are and then striving to be who we want to be under God can liberate us from the despair of fatalism and the naivety that we control our destiny.
“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” Psalm 139: 1-3