The Trouble With Being A Presbyterian

The title of this post is relatively light hearted, but it goes to a deeper discussion that Christy and I had tonight.

We had a conversation we should have had already, but have not had and probably would never have but for the present circumstances. Having spent the better part of Friday trying to chart a course in life with just Evelyn and me, and Christy having spent time privately grieving for Evelyn not knowing her mother, we had things to say.

“Every action, every word, every thought, every deed, every thing under the sun has a purpose and it is all for God’s glory.”

And those things kind of went like this — we don’t believe that things just happen. Saying there is “free will” is just buying temporary comfort. Saying men just chose to fly planes into buildings and start a war may give present reassurances to secularists and free-will Baptists, but the fact is that things just don’t having. Every thing, every thing has a purpose. We can use our discernment and judgment to recognize that not every purpose is particularly significant in and of itself and some are just natural processes along the way, but everything has a purpose. Everything is done for God’s glory. We may not see how or why or fully understand the purpose or how it plays into God’s glory, but everything does. A coincidence is a secular person’s way of rationalizing that we’re all tangled in the intricate, interconnected spider web that is God’s Will. As my sister said yesterday, “there are no coincidences.”

Free will is false comfort. Sure, free will is much more American. After all, we prefer to think we are the masters of our own destiny and view those who accept God’s sovereignty as buying into a notion that we are just puppets with God pulling the strings. That’s unfair and not a true representation of those of us who reject the idea of free will to its furthest reaches (sure, I accept that in our day to day lives we view our acts as acts of volition, but viewed from God’s own perspective I think we’d see that our course is set). But the idea that some nut walked into a school with a machine gun and mowed down students on his own volition is also not true — it’s not socially acceptable to usually say such things, but that does not make it less true.

Every thing has a purpose.

So Christy in the hospital, possibly with cancer, and a week to go by before we know anything — this has a purpose. I have no clue what that purpose is. But at least we talked about that purpose tonight.

I taught a Sunday School class last year on how to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Part of it involved Martin Luther praying each portion of the Lord’s Prayer and adding his own meditations and prayers to it. I have frequently, since then, prayed the Lord’s Prayer and when I get to the part “Your Will be done,” I add “and Lord, however imperfect I may be, make me a faithful instrument of your will.” That is what Christy and I both hope to be — faithful instruments of God’s will and faithful witnesses of his Word.

Now, we don’t *know* what exactly our role is and we are admittedly less than fully faithful instruments of his will, but we know we have a role to play. And this week has brought clarity of purpose to that. This week has brought clarity to a lot of issues.

One of the starkest realities I have faced this week is simply loneliness. It has helped tremendously to have my family arrive on the scene to help. At the same time, it is times like this when I am distinctly aware that I have lived in Macon for 13 years and failed to develop a group of dependable, every day friends in town. If I want to go out and grab a beer with friends, I have to fly to Washington, D.C. or, if the stars align just right, call up the RedState gang that lives in Atlanta — Clayton, Paul, Chris, and Jeff — assuming class, work, and travel schedules align just right.

Christy’s Bible Study group showed up at the hospital last night and has delivered meals to the house. I’m so thankful for them. I had to poke and prod Christy to keep going to that Bible Study. My wife lives in constant fear that she does not fit in. Having grown up with a solid, core group of four dependable friends, she has difficulty sometimes embracing others and feeling a part of a group. This week has taught her, beyond reasonable doubt, that she has found, again, a dependable core of friends. I am genuinely thankful for that.

This week has also taught us that we have more friends and good acquaintances than we thought we had. So many people have reached out to us this week — some we did not even know. We’ve had elected officials and others show up at the hospital to check on Christy. We’ve had preachers from several churches show up. Christy and I had no idea. And I am profoundly oblivious to the reach we seem to have. It is an awesome blessing and an eye opening experience.

Out of this we know there are things we need to work on. Christy and I are homebodies. It takes a lot of effort and outreach to get us going. We never want to impose so we never want to ask people to go out to eat or invite people over or make anyone feel obligated to do something that they may not want to do. Perhaps that needs to change.

There are other areas we need to work on too for our own self growth. Frankly, we’ve lived in Macon for all six of our married years and we’ve never really put down roots here and established a good network of friends and relationships. We’ve also told ourselves we wouldn’t stay. We’d move to Carrollton or Washington or somewhere — we just had no plans to call Macon home. Tonight we realized Macon is home, we really do have good friends here, and we damn well ought to embrace it instead of keeping it at arms length.

The funniest thing about Christy’s and my relationship with each other is that we save up so many things to say to each other, never wanting to have “the talk” we need to have. And in the end, without fail, every time we have “the talk,” we find out we are on the exact same page headed in the exact same direction.

That gives me comfort. Every action, every word, every thought, every deed, every thing under the sun has a purpose and it is all for God’s glory.

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Erick Erickson

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2 Comments

  • Erick, please know that you do have friends who care about you. Don’t keep us at arm’s length. Have you ever stopped to think that if you invited someone over or to go out to eat with you, that they would love to spend time with you, and not that it’s their obligation since they were invited by you? You and Christy are fun, great people who anyone that knows you would love to spend time with. Please know that! We are here for you and will always be there when you need a friend or need help in any way. Don’t hesitate to call.

  • Erick, I am a stranger to you except for our occasional, quick IM exchanges about something that you’ve written. But, as I’ve followed your story, particularly over the past week, I have come to realize that we not strangers! We are brother and sister in Christ! Our Father is in control of every step we take and He WILL lead our path.

    Our family has struggled with several instances of cancer with my mom — spanning about fifteen years. The thing I have learned the most from this is that our God is the most amazing, grace-giving Father. Some days the most I could do was just curl up in His arms and cry…but those moments have come to be the most profound of my life. He was with me and he truly wiped my tears. He gives the Peace that truly surpasses any understanding. In times of absolute craziness, we all felt the calm in our Spirits. Mom is now in her second remission and we praise God daily for that blessing.

    I will be praying God’s peace for your family during this difficult holiday season. I will also be praying for a miracle from the greatest Physician! Trust in Him. Lean on Him. And curl up in the arms of the Father who is keenly aware of the struggles you face.