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Might it be true that each of us is (and have been) where we are supposed to be?

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Have you ever considered, or rather pondered and reflected on your life experiences questions about whether you have or had been exactly where you were supposed to be at any given time in your life?

 

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I am reluctant anymore to retrace my specific cult learning by taking apart or parsing scriptures the way wierwille modeled for us. So, I won't explore any of the Greek words in the quoted passage.

But despite wierwille's admonition that "experience is no guarantee for truth," I will share insights from "trouble" I recall that I experienced. Without oversharing, I can easily cite my marriage which ended in divorce. It was a dark and stormy time. Well, much of it. Yet there were good times. And next week, my daughter will reach her 30th birthday. Her two children, my grandchildren, are truly the biggest joy of my life. But the divorce was hard. Much harder than anything I went through in MY time in twi. (Your mileage may (WILL) vary).

I mention it to highlight that rather than having wasted 12 years of my life, my fundamentalist cult history provides context in which I can share stories that some of the more than 6 billion people alive today can relate to in the journey through this life. And telling my own stories is how I choose to carry out my ministry of reconciliation. TWI is no longer the "church" into which I try to recruit people in hopes they would find a path to reconcile them to God. Rather, twi is a major part of the context of my life that I can share with them to provide insight.

Because in this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart. Jesus said he overcame the world. He didn't do so by getting rich, winning the lottery, or having an easy time of life. He did so by enduring more of the trouble than you and I have.

That being said, I'll offer you this, from a daily reading of brief insights from Stoic philosophy. There's no group to join, or class to take. It's YOUR life. 



 

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I believe that in each step of my life, I have been exactly where God wanted me to be. To experience something, to learn something, or maybe to help someone else.

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I'll offer a few of my own thoughts, and they can be taken or left, of course. 

I find that I understand God more as I spend more time as a parent.  Keep an eye out, educate, instruct, warn- then watch as you're ignored and someone pays the consequences of ignoring.  

If there is a God, and if there is a Transcendent God,  then His perspective is more long-term than my here-and-now perspective.  Any veteran chess player can understand that thinking long-term is a key to winning consistently at chess.   A chess master can think dozens of moves in advance.  A Transcendent God could think millions of moves in advance, and incorporate "insignificant" events into later events a century later, a millenium later.  

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, and was thrown into jail as a slave for a crime he never committed, but for which he was wrongfully accused.  This covered years of his life.  Joseph later saw it and said that they meant it to him for evil, but God meant it for good, to save many people.  (Joseph's time in prison led to him becoming Pharaohs Chief Executive Officer, which led to him saving much of Egypt and Israel, as well as others.)  He never claimed God put him in prison or slavery, but he thought God meant all of that for good.  I think he was correct in thinking that.

So,  even years in a life with no seeming guidance or blessings may be part of a bigger picture, and leading up to something major.

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I think we can learn something from everything that happens to us.  And those things that happen make us who we are now.  If different experiences had happened, then we would be a bit different.

My life [and probably everyone else's] has diverged wildly from where I thought it would be at any given point on my "plan."  That said, I think I'm ideally placed where I am now to reach out and help others.  I like that.  I'm happy with that.  I don't think that divergence (or indeed the plan) was ever part of God's "plan" but he helps me through the difficulties and problems, and helps me find purpose wherever I am.  Generally, I feel fulfilled and a valued member of my community/ies.

Having said that, I'd still have liked the loving husband, the several kids, the nice house and dogs and cats and whatever.  But.  Well.  I have the house and the cats.  And good friends who love and help me.  I would have liked the career I studied hard for over many years (but I still get to use a lot of what I'd learned).

Quote

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

I am content to know the peace of God in my heart.  That counts for a lot.

Edited by Twinky
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2 hours ago, Twinky said:

I think we can learn something from everything that happens to us.  And those things that happen make us who we are now.  If different experiences had happened, then we would be a bit different.

My life [and probably everyone else's] has diverged wildly from where I thought it would be at any given point on my "plan."  That said, I think I'm ideally placed where I am now to reach out and help others.  I like that.  I'm happy with that.  I don't think that divergence (or indeed the plan) was ever part of God's "plan" but he helps me through the difficulties and problems, and helps me find purpose wherever I am.  Generally, I feel fulfilled and a valued member of my community/ies.

Having said that, I'd still have liked the loving husband, the several kids, the nice house and dogs and cats and whatever.  But.  Well.  I have the house and the cats.  And good friends who love and help me.  I would have liked the career I studied hard for over many years (but I still get to use a lot of what I'd learned).

I am content to know the peace of God in my heart.  That counts for a lot.

Indeed, I get what you're saying. I can think of things I'd rather have and rather do than what I do have and do now. Yet, I have (hopefully) learned that the obstacle is the way. I no longer look at my time in twi as having wasted 12 years of my life but as preparation for what I get to be and do today. 

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8 hours ago, Rocky said:

I no longer look at my time in twi as having wasted 12 years of my life but as preparation for what I get to be and do today.

Me too, but it's still an experience I'd rather have done without.  And especially the years of condemnation and despair afterwards (the lost years).  I do feel robbed, of those "lost years."

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8 hours ago, Rocky said:

I no longer look at my time in twi as having wasted 12 years of my life but as preparation for what I get to be and do today.

Me too, but it's still an experience I'd rather have done without.  And especially the years of condemnation and despair afterwards (the lost years).  I do feel robbed, of those "lost years."

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40 minutes ago, Twinky said:

Me too, but it's still an experience I'd rather have done without.  And especially the years of condemnation and despair afterwards (the lost years).  I do feel robbed, of those "lost years."

I understand. I did too, for years.

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I find this concept to be only a false comforting. 

God gave us free will.  If we were ALWAYS where God wanted us to be, then that is edging into control, and He doesn't control us.  We have the free will to following His urging or to ignore it.  I cite Paul as an example.  He was told several times, even by a prophet, NOT to go to Jerusalem, yet he ignored God's urging and went anyway.  It almost killed him.  But, God was able to use that error in judgement for profit.

So, no, I say I have definitely not always been exactly where I was supposed to be at any given time in my life.  What I find more comforting is knowing that God can work with me in spite of my poor decisions.

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3 hours ago, Taxidev said:

I find this concept to be only a false comforting. 

God gave us free will.  If we were ALWAYS where God wanted us to be, then that is edging into control, and He doesn't control us.  We have the free will to following His urging or to ignore it.  I cite Paul as an example.  He was told several times, even by a prophet, NOT to go to Jerusalem, yet he ignored God's urging and went anyway.  It almost killed him.  But, God was able to use that error in judgement for profit.

So, no, I say I have definitely not always been exactly where I was supposed to be at any given time in my life.  What I find more comforting is knowing that God can work with me in spite of my poor decisions.

I was ready to disagree with you, but I think we got to the exact same answer by the end- that God works with us DESPITE, that God plans DESPITE  (despite our disobedience, despite our bad decisions, despite the bad decisions of others....)   That can LOOK like God wanted us in that place, but it's not quite the same, even if he blesses us there and meets us there.

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7 hours ago, WordWolf said:

That can LOOK like God wanted us in that place

Exactly.

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14 hours ago, Taxidev said:

I find this concept to be only a false comforting. 

God gave us free will.  If we were ALWAYS where God wanted us to be, then that is edging into control, and He doesn't control us.  We have the free will to following His urging or to ignore it.  I cite Paul as an example.  He was told several times, even by a prophet, NOT to go to Jerusalem, yet he ignored God's urging and went anyway.  It almost killed him.  But, God was able to use that error in judgement for profit.

So, no, I say I have definitely not always been exactly where I was supposed to be at any given time in my life.  What I find more comforting is knowing that God can work with me in spite of my poor decisions.

You may have a point. But it may also be a distinction without a difference. I'm not going to argue your semantics (or mine). But does the expression , "God was able to use that error in judgment for profit..." fail to take in, or consider the wisdom that comes from experience? (See Romans 5)


1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

And might "gained access by faith into this grace wherein we now stand," presuppose that we have to abstain from making errors in judgment in order to benefit from that access into grace?

Nevertheless, what you posed suggests an intriguing quandary and/or paradox.

 

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On 10/30/2019 at 7:45 PM, Rocky said:

You may have a point. But it may also be a distinction without a difference. I'm not going to argue your semantics (or mine). But does the expression , "God was able to use that error in judgment for profit..." fail to take in, or consider the wisdom that comes from experience? (See Romans 5)


1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

And might "gained access by faith into this grace wherein we now stand," presuppose that we have to abstain from making errors in judgment in order to benefit from that access into grace?

Nevertheless, what you posed suggests an intriguing quandary and/or paradox.

 

Agreed, and for me the conundrum is only solvable by recognizing that life is what it is, not what it might have been. So out of the weave of our lives, the fabric of God's will is ultimately produced into His "new life" in Christ.  The New Birth then occurs not by the perfection of our choices but by the choice to allow God's "perfect work" in Christ to be fulfilled, in us. 

I define "free will" as "free choice", at it's purest. The power of my will is primarily understood as the ability to produce actions and outcomes from a range of existing possibilities. This would seem obvious but if we include God's "will" as being able to create from "nothing" (with mechanics beyond our understanding) then I think it does need to be established clearly that yes, we  choose and in that way create outcomes but we can never produce a choice or an outcome that didn't already exist, tangibly or in theory. (when I try to imagine Lucifer's rebellion of self-will I have to figure it was so blinded by pride that the obvious was ignored, that rebellion can never succeed against The Creator, or perhaps it may even be in the nature of man's free will/choice to include that weakness - that's a quandary I like to ponder too - and the reason that a Lucifer would have cut his nose off to spit his face may be no more complicated than why any of us would....to add - which makes the "battle of the senses and the "spiritual warfare" winnable against a "god of disobedience of this age" when we are "alive in Christ" and identified with Him)

Anyway - I would define "free will/choice" as "believing" and there's no scenario in life where we can be anything other than what we choose or than what God directs ( and I do believe that God can deliberately do things that move the blocks of life around in such a way that our choices narrow, even to just one) .... in that way we are now the complete product of who we WERE and HAVE BEEN - 

At a granular level the quandary then rules - we can and will make mistakes and they are simply the wrong things in their time and place. 

At a global level the quandary dissipates - out of all of it God's eternal will is and will always be accomplished, and in that way "all things" ultimately can be turned to a good result, outcome, profit, as you point out. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, socks said:

Agreed, and for me the conundrum is only solvable by recognizing that life is what it is, not what it might have been. So out of the weave of our lives, the fabric of God's will is ultimately produced into His "new life" in Christ.  The New Birth then occurs not by the perfection of our choices but by the choice to allow God's "perfect work" in Christ to be fulfilled, in us. 

I define "free will" as "free choice", at it's purest. The power of my will is primarily understood as the ability to produce actions and outcomes from a range of existing possibilities. This would seem obvious but if we include God's "will" as being able to create from "nothing" (with mechanics beyond our understanding) then I think it does need to be established clearly that yes, we  choose and in that way create outcomes but we can never produce a choice or an outcome that didn't already exist, tangibly or in theory. (when I try to imagine Lucifer's rebellion of self-will I have to figure it was so blinded by pride that the obvious was ignored, that rebellion can never succeed against The Creator, or perhaps it may even be in the nature of man's free will/choice to include that weakness - that's a quandary I like to ponder too - and the reason that a Lucifer would have cut his nose off to spit his face may be no more complicated than why any of us would....to add - which makes the "battle of the senses and the "spiritual warfare" winnable against a "god of disobedience of this age" when we are "alive in Christ" and identified with Him)

Anyway - I would define "free will/choice" as "believing" and there's no scenario in life where we can be anything other than what we choose or than what God directs ( and I do believe that God can deliberately do things that move the blocks of life around in such a way that our choices narrow, even to just one) .... in that way we are now the complete product of who we WERE and HAVE BEEN - 

At a granular level the quandary then rules - we can and will make mistakes and they are simply the wrong things in their time and place. 

At a global level the quandary dissipates - out of all of it God's eternal will is and will always be accomplished, and in that way "all things" ultimately can be turned to a good result, outcome, profit, as you point out. 

 

 

Indeed. :thinking:

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Bumping this topic up.

Today I received an email from the Daily Stoic that asked the question, "What is gratitude?"

 

On this day of American Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to make time for thanks, to actively think about that word that has become almost cliché in wellness circles: gratitude. But what is gratitude? Some people think of it as being thankful for all the good things you have in your life. Others see it as the act of acknowledging what people have done for you or what you appreciate about others.

While the Stoics would have agreed that was all important, they practiced a slightly different form of gratitude. It was more inclusive and counterintuitive. It wasn’t just about being grateful for the good, but for all of life. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” The first key word there is everything. The other key word is convince. Meaning: you have to tell yourself that it’s all good, even the so-called “bad stuff.”

Is it possible to be grateful for that nine-hour travel delay that has you sleeping on a bench in the airport? Is it possible to be grateful for your father’s affair that tore your family apart, and which now means you’re celebrating two Thanksgivings in two houses because your parents can’t be in the same room together? Or that dark period you went through in college, when your grades fell to pieces and you thought about killing yourself? It’s not easy to be grateful for any of this, but it is possible.

In the Discourses, Epictetus says, “It is easy to praise providence for anything that may happen if you have two qualities: a complete view of what has actually happened in each instance, and a sense of gratitude.” On the surface, much of what we’re upset about or wish hadn’t occurred is so objectionable that gratitude seems impossible. But if we can zoom out for that more complete view, understanding and appreciation can emerge. First off, you’re alive. That’s the silver lining of every s h i t t y situation and should not be forgotten. But second, everything that has happened and is happening is bringing you to where you are. It’s contributing to the person you have become. And that’s a good thing. This understanding, Epictetus said, helps you see the world in full color—in the color of gratitude.

The Stoics believed that we should feel gratitude for all the people and events that form our lives. We shouldn’t just be thankful for the gifts we receive, and our relationships with friends and family. We should also be aware of and grateful for the setbacks and annoyances. For the difficult coworkers and the nagging in-laws, for the stress they put on us and whatever other difficulties we might be experiencing. Why? Because it’s all of those things, interconnected and dependent on each other, that made you who and what you are today. It is only by seeing the totality of things, good and bad, that you gain the understanding necessary to be truly grateful.

It could be that terrible relationship that imploded spectacularly, but which led to you meeting the love of your life. It could even be the passing of a relative, something that caused you great sadness but which also spurred you to build stronger relationships with your loved ones. All of these things are sad, and they may not even lead to a happy ending—but they still define the course of your life, and it wouldn’t be you sitting there right now without them.

As you gather around your family and friends this Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other celebration you might partake in, take the time to appreciate the moment and give thanks for all the obvious and bountiful gifts that moment presents. But also, be sure to be thankful for everything in your life, both the good and the bad. Because it’s in seeing all of those things, and understanding their impact, that you gain the ability to express true gratitude.

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On 10/26/2019 at 2:13 PM, Rocky said:

Have you ever considered, or rather pondered and reflected on your life experiences questions about whether you have or had been exactly where you were supposed to be at any given time in your life?

 

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”...(snip)

...I mention it to highlight that rather than having wasted 12 years of my life, my fundamentalist cult history provides context in which I can share stories that some of the more than 6 billion people alive today can relate to in the journey through this life. And telling my own stories is how I choose to carry out my ministry of reconciliation. TWI is no longer the "church" into which I try to recruit people in hopes they would find a path to reconcile them to God. Rather, twi is a major part of the context of my life that I can share with them to provide insight.

Because in this world you WILL have trouble. But take heart. Jesus said he overcame the world. He didn't do so by getting rich, winning the lottery, or having an easy time of life. He did so by enduring more of the trouble than you and I have.

That being said, I'll offer you this, from a daily reading of brief insights from Stoic philosophy. There's no group to join, or class to take. It's YOUR life. 
 

thanks for starting this thread – great input by all…lots to think about.

I think there is a lot to what was said in the Daily Stoic you referenced –

“The Stoics were right. We have no idea what life has in store for us or what it is saving us for—even as it kicks our foot and breaks our hearts. Whatever we are going through, whatever is happening to us, we must know that: we are where we are supposed to be right now. How’s that?

Because we can make it be where we are supposed to be. By the actions we take and the choices we make.” (from Daily Stoic)

I tend to look at life as a journey – and in a combination of experiences - - with people and situations (both good and bad) – and with hopes, desires and prayer – try to map out the way I should go. Since I left TWI, I feel like I’m more in the driver’s seat - instead of thinking like I have to be in the center of God’s will (I’m of the opinion God’s sovereign will is something known only to God); What I’m talking about here is more along the lines of God’s general will already expressed in Scripture – do good, love thy neighbor, be honest, etc.).

The criteria for reference points on my map usually have some moral or personal consideration. Is this job I’m considering legitimate? Will it be a good move for my family too? Being in the driver’s seat means being aware of options and the responsibility and impact of the actions I take and choices I make. That not only includes learning from my mistakes, failures, good and bad experiences – but always developing critical thinking /good judgment skills.

where am I supposed to be? Maybe it's also asking what do I think I am supposed to be at this point in time on my journey? What have I become? What am I becoming?

Concerning God’s sovereign will - it looks at the bigger picture (whatever you can gather – especially as you broaden your horizons) – perhaps this goes along with the other thing of interconnectedness with others (that Rocky referred to in another post): When I think of the Lord’s Prayer “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – I don’t think that is supposed to be an empty-headed desire; I think it goes deep into our makeup – of all that we are as a person - for us to acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Granted it probably refers  to a future time – when God’s sovereign will becomes evident – but  I wonder if it also has an eye on the short term – God’s will being worked out - in part anyway - on earth in the here and now – that recognizes the interconnectedness of us all.

Edited by T-Bone
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