Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Mysterious Mix of Life

An old preacher began his sermon with this introduction:  "This morning I'm going to explain to you the unexplainable.  I am going to define the indefinable.  I'm going to ponder the imponderable.  I'm going to unscrew the inscrutable."  How I wish I could do all that as I ponder the mysterious mix of life.

A few years ago an old friend stopped by to visit.  It had been thirty years since we last connected.  I hardly recognized him--the truth is--I did not recognize him.  Thirty years ago he had hair.  Thirty years ago he was in good physical shape, weighing in at about 170 pounds.  Oh, but you should see him now!  He weighs in at about 250 pounds and most of that is hanging over his belt!  Thirty years ago everyone thought he was on the road to a great career, but he didn't make it.  Some of this I suppose was his own fault, but what could he do about his loss of hair or the consequences of various decisions and chance happenings in his life, some of which he had no control over.  In life there is a mysterious mix of many things, some conscious, some unconscious, and many of these are totally outside one's control.  Various myths are inculcated; genes inherited, psychological issues are present, background plays a huge role, chance happenings occur, relationships are developed and lost, accidents happen, choices are made (some conscious, some unconscious) and opportunities are accepted or lost.  All these things play a part in the life of every person and very often these things control our lives much more than we know.

A study was done of 268 men who entered Harvard in 1936.  Their lives were observed over the next 70 years.  When the study began, the sociologists attempted to predict what life would hold for each of these men.  But the predictions were way off.  They lived out their lives in ways that defied all predictions.  Each life was unique--and while they all started at Harvard--and had somewhat the same opportunities--their life journeys were totally different.  Life's mysterious mix had much to do with it.  Some developed physical problems based on their family history; some made unwise choices; others were tumbled over by life circumstances beyond their control.  Life is a mysterious mix of many ingredients.

Have you ever wondered what happened to your college classmates?  Where are they now forty or fifty years later?  How did they get there and why?  Who could have guessed?  Or have you ever wondered where you would be if you had taken another road than the one you chose?  Did you consciously choose that road or did it just happen?  Where would you be now?  Who could have predicted the many twists and turns of your life or mine?  Have you ever wondered why one person dies in a tragic accident or by fatal illness at a young age?  Have you ever wondered about how one person lives to be 95 and another 35?  Life is a mysterious mix--and despite our best efforts and fondest hopes and dreams, life does not always shape up the way we want or think it should.  Life is a mysterious mix of paradox and sometimes even wimp.

Some will say that it is all in the will of God.  Does God operate on a whimp, choosing this person above the other for success, for poverty, for destiny, for death, for accident?  I find that ludicrous and irrational!  Does a person then determine his or her own life journey?  No, that doesn't work either and is just as irrational.  Oh, how I wish I could explain the unexplainable, define the indefinable, ponder the imponderable, and unscrew the inscrutable!

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