on the lie of a benevolent universe


I just wanted to share some words from Shauna Niequist because I read her newest book, Present Over Perfect, while I was away visiting with family in Vancouver a few weeks ago and they were very impactful.

She writes:

I thought that outside forces would guide me benevolently, rightly. They did not. And it was not their job. It was mine. I abdicated authority for my own choices. And what it led to was a broken body and depleted soul.

And now some years later, I know that I am responsible for stewarding my own life, my desires and limitations, my capacities and longing. I can do far less than I originally believed.

The idea of a benevolent universe that guides us into the right life circumstances really struck a chord with me – this is SO what I’ve believed since the beginning of time.

For some strange reason or another, my Christian upbringing never led me to separate the idea of God who creates beautiful, decision-making, honest-to-goodness human beings with a God who places humans in a pre-designed universe which will guide them into being their ultimately best case scenario. My goodness. Note to my current and future self – God does NOT guide us through benevolent forces in the universe. God Himself is NOT a benevolent force. No, God lovingly created human beings and gave us the ability to make decisions about our lives – what we want to do and want not to do, what we prefer and don’t prefer. We are made to “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!” as Eugene Peterson paraphrases Genesis 1:28 in the Message.

This world is not pre-designed. Our lives are not pre-designed. If we choose to accept whatever falls onto our plate as our lot in life – well, it’ll be painful when we realise it’s foolish to equate the way things go and the way things could be. Believe me – I’ve been duped by this idea for a long time, thinking that a job offer, or a volunteer opportunity, or more work or another contract or even a relationship or friendship must no-questions-asked be meant for me simply because it came across my horizon. Um, no! Not even close. God simply did not intend the world to be that way.

Some imagined universe force will not benevolently mold our lives into perfection – who are we kidding?

We are wonderfully made and all is grace. We are limited and meant to walk in freedom because of that. Can we believe that today?

I know it’s something I need to keep reminding myself of.

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