Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sliding Doors...

Does anyone out there remember a movie from the late 90's entitled Sliding Doors? I do... it starred Gwyneth Paltrow who happens to be one of my favorite actresses. It's been a long while since my only viewing of the movie, but its premise is one that has stuck with me and something I have contemplated over and over again throughout my life. The movie takes the main character (played by Gwyneth) and shows the viewer two different ways her life plays out in light of catching or missing her subway train. In one scenario, she catches her live-in boyfriend in bed with another woman prompting a break-up and romance with another man. In the other scenario, she misses the other woman completely and ends up pregnant with a cheating man's baby that she will lose through a miscarriage down the line. In both scenarios, she ends up with the same love interest. And that's what makes it all so fascinating... from totally opposite paths, the end result is the same.

It's the whole predestination theory taken to another (and specifically box-office, romantic) level. Am I predestined to be something specific, and does God get me there no matter what choices I make in life? Am I placed on earth to do specific things? What lengths will God use to put me where He wants me? It's a fascinating thought to me, and I am finding things in the Old Testament that intrigue me more about this subject. {Side note... I am still reading the Old Testament. Just finished the book of Genesis last week, and started on the book of Exodus this morning. It's a slow process at this point.}

Last week, I thought about it as I read the story of Joseph, as in the coat-of-many-colors Joseph who was sold into Egyptian slavery by his brothers because of their jealousy. Many will recall the way the brothers were reunited later in life when Joseph has become a person of honor in Egyptian society through interpreting Pharaoh's dream and therefore launching a plan that will save the Egyptians from a seven year famine. Joseph is reunited with his family, and he forgives. Several years later, after the death of their father, the brothers are afraid that Joseph's kindness will end. They sent a message to Joseph asking for forgiveness, and part of Joseph's response was this: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Ex. 50:20)

Thinking back over Joseph's story, I realize this ~ his brothers wanted to kill him, but one brother, Reuben, convinced the others to just throw him into a cistern, and he planned to come back and to rescue Joseph and take him back to their father (Gen. 37:21-22). Reuben made a choice that saved Joseph's life and set about the chain of events that led him to Egypt to interpret the dream for Pharaoh. I am really amazed, however, to see the way Joseph puts it all together in the latter years of his life. He is fully aware that God has used his life circumstances to help others, to save lives, and he seems content with that.

This morning I read over the story of the birth of Moses. I remember the pretty illustrations of the baby in the basket, bisque porcelain skin swaddled in cloths and floating in the river. But this morning, I was reminded of the why. The Egyptian Pharaoh had ordered all male Hebrew babies born to be killed out of fear that the Hebrew nation would rise up against the Egyptians and take over with their rising population. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be pregnant during that time as a Hebrew woman? I can't imagine a more helpless feeling than giving birth to a baby boy in those days. So, this woman gives birth to a boy, and she just can't bring herself to obey the Pharaoh's declaration, so she hides the infant for three months. When she couldn't hide him any longer, she fashions a reed basket and floats him in the Nile river, and sets her daughter on the bank to see what happens to him.

We know what happens next... the Pharaoh's daughter finds him, the sister steps in to suggest she find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby, and the rest is literally history, or the story of Moses. Through this awful situation, the ordering of the slaughter of male babies, comes forth Moses. By way of an evil situation comes the deliverer of the people of Israel out of Egyptian slavery.

It shows me this about God... when doors are shut, whether sliding or not, He will find a way to bring forth what He purposes for us. My God can pull something good out of any situation in life. Look at Joseph. Look a Moses. And I am only in the first chapter of Exodus! Think of how many of these circumstances I will uncover throughout the reading of the Old Testament...

I am just amazed at God's power, His ability to weave people and circumstance together to work out His divine plan. And it makes me realize that when I am doubtful of decisions, when I am feeling like life's circumstances are unfair or too difficult to bear, all I need is faith in my God who can work all things together for His good. All things, no matter what's behind that sliding door.

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