So, good Christian. There’s something you want. It might be a Grammy (you guys always seem to thank God for those – noone seems to thank him for Oscars though, strange isn’t it?), it might be a smaller tumour in your son’s head, it might merely be the wisdom to accept the things you cannot change (or some other such thing you might see held to a fridge via Intelligent Sticking) or just a parking space a little bit closer to the doors of the Westfield Shoppingtown because you hate pushing nana’s wheelchair so goddam far just to go and get some coat hangers from Howard’s Storage World and a Wendy’s hotdog. So, pop quiz, hotshot? What do yo do? What do you do?
Why, you pray, of course! Duh. You’re a Christian. Of course you pray! You’re a good Christian – you follow the commandments and the Golden Rule and you judge not and you cast not the first stone and you kneel and bow and beg for forgiveness for being born such a heinous sinner and you sing the hymns and go to church and put angels & stars on the Christmas tree instead of reindeer and help the aged and do a lot of holy things that take up your time & energy, so surely all your hard work entitles you to ask for the odd favour, right? You do all this praising and charitable work and stuff so why shouldn’t you expect a little help, a little … somethin’ before Eternal Paradise? After all, Jesus said “Ask and ye shall receive”, didn’t he?
So you ask. You might even beg! You’re already on your knees with your head down, so why not throw in a “Please, please, PLEASE, come ON” before your amen? You really want it. You really need it. You’re desperate. You’re a good Christian. You deserve it! Why shouldn’t Ol’ Mate throw you a frickin’ bone?
But wait – what about The Plan? That Plan that so many Christians talk about, y’know … God’s Plan. The one that’s trotted out after an earthquake, plane crash, unlikely recovery from illness or injury, miraculous comeback win in a footo game. The one that’s praised when a few people don’t die when lots of others do. You’ve heard it being invoked on TV: “Well, all mah nayburs got wiped out bah that tornady but mah traylur was left unharmed – ah guess Gawd has a Plan fur me.” I saw The Plan mentioned myself, written in the wish book at my dear cousin’s fundie Pentecostal wedding (which is its own future post!): “I can’t wait to see what God’s got in store for you!” Indeed. Well, it seems God wants them to distribute bibles in their church’s pet village in Rwanda, just for the record. I’m sure there are more important things than bibles to the people of Rwanda but I’m also sure most of these Rwandans will take the bibles as long as they come with a bag of freakin’ rice and maybe some corn seeds or school fees or something, thank you very much.
OK, back to God’s Plan. This Plan allegedly includes each & every one of us six billion bald apes. The Plan, presumably, was laid out long ago and is, equally presumably, leading us all to some kind of destiny. After all, why construct a plan with no desired end result? A plan with no intended outcome isn’t a plan, it’s a journey without a destination – it’s pointless meandering, changing direction on a whim. Let me presume again and say that a Plan, conceived by a Supreme Being and involving every single sentient life-form on the planet Earth (possibly the Universe), would necessarily be incredibly complex, intertwined and the outcome completely dependent on precise planned interactions of everyone with everyone else and their responses to every event in their lives. You’d think a Plan so mind-bogglingly complex would not be able to tolerate much of a deviation from its original intent. Right now I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…
Yes, basically it’s this: IF this Plan is the be-all and end-all and has been in motion for a Very Long Time and is leading to God’s desired outcome, do you really think God will change something, anything – even the slightest, tiniest thing like making a parking space open to you at a specific time – just because you ask him nicely? What if you were meant to park further away from the shops that day? God knows, if that Westfield collapses while you’re pushing nana’s wheelchair through the carpark and kills a few hundred people, you’ll be thanking him that you weren’t one of them. You might even thank him because you now won’t have to spend three hours pushing that wheelchair around for three hours on a Saturday arvo because, God knows (of course he does), you’d rather be watching the V8s or playing GTA IV. Either way, you & nana are alive and hundreds aren’t. They’re with God now. Lucky them. Their families should feel blessed that their dear departed were Chosen.
That’s beside the point though, because you didn’t see that coming. The only person who knew that mall was going to collapse was Big Fella. But what if you asked for little Timmy’s brain cancer to go into remission? It seems like a reasonable enough request – “Save my son’s life. He’s too young to be suffering chemo and radiation and agony and nausea and too young for what looks like an inevitable, drawn-out, painful, premature death.” So you get on your knees, squeeze your eyes shut, clasp your hands until they’re white and beg God to spare Timmy.
But what about The Plan? Maybe it’s God’s Plan for Timmy to join him in heaven. Maybe God needs him for a special angel mission. Maybe God just likes his jokes. Whatever – who are you to attempt to change God’s mind and stand in the way of his work? You think you can kneel down and selfishly ask God to leave Timmy there with you so you can enjoy Timmy’s company until you’re ready to leave Earth and join God? You think you’re so important that God’s going to say “Wait a minute – that kid’s dad has a point. Timmy, you are healed! Screw The Plan. Screw how it will affect everyone else”? What if Timmy’s premature death is meant, via The Plan, to inspire you to start a foundation in Timmy’s name that will one day provide the money that directly funds the cure for the cancer that killed Timmy, saving countless lives? If God leaves Timmy there with you, what’s going to happen to all those cancer-stricken kids in the future who will die horribly because the treatment for their cancer was delayed by your selfishness and undignified pleading?
Let Timmy go. It’s his time, God needs him in heaven – he’ll go to a better place.
It’s all part of The Plan.