Coming up on two weeks until Easter tomorrow. My birthday follows 3 days later. Easter was last on my birthday in 2012 and won’t be again until 2091 so I think I can safely say have seen the last Easter birthday.
It was exceptionally special to observe my birthday on the day we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has happened to me twice: 2007 and 2012. I felt blessed both times. Now I understand that this sense of specialness is actually contrived by how we construct the calendar and there is no overt spiritual significance to it, but symbolically it was very meaningful and it reminded me of some very important things: the resurrection of my Lord and Savior and my birth into this world as laid out by my heavenly Father according to his plan, purpose, and fulfillment.
There are many mysteries about life, God, purpose, and meaning, but the one I keep coming back to and one of the ones, when I go through my class for Knowing God, that constantly trips people up is the mystery at the intersection of our sovereign God, who numbers the hairs on my head (an He has to work at that since that number is constantly diminishing) and my will and the responsible/irresponsible choices I continually make. It is very hard for people to reconcile that both of those things can be true. The thing that most people want to hold onto is the integrity of their choices as an exercise of their will, so that they feel they are not some sort of automaton being manipulated by their view of a sovereign God.
We are not talking about those who willingly surrender and say to God as Paul did in Galatians 2:20:
“20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
And even among those who are able to actively do that, they question their own will and ability to choose freely because they have experienced what Paul experienced and talked about in Romans 7:15-20:
15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So it would seem even the desire to make clear and honest choices is thwarted by sin, which is the stark reality of life in this fallen world. As I have often heard someone say when trying to understand something complex and irreconcilable, “This is above my paygrade.” So I guess it boils down to not so much what you do as what you honestly try to do, for as Paul noted, we will all fail and be forced to repentance and seeking the reconciling grace of the blood of Christ. That is a given. On the other side of the coin, by surrendering to God and His will, we can accept that some things I cannot control, either about my own choices due to sin or God’s choices due to his sovereignty.
It is a conundrum. Something we may never, even in eternity, have an answer to. It boils down to trust and the fundamental question, “Do you trust God or not?” You either do or you don’t. If you do, you accept three things: things are often out of your control, you are responsible for what you do, even if it is the old sin nature that drives you to do it, and finally, the only answer is as Paul says in Romans 7:1:
The only answer is Christ, his blood, and our forgiveness in his sacrifice, so that we can say what Paul says in Romans 8:1:
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Amen to that.