Free Pass

Deuteronomy 5:33 You must follow exactly the path that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess.

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Recently, a question was posed to me: if you had a free pass to go back and re-do any moment or event in your life, what would you change, fix or re-do? As someone who lives in a perpetual state of evaluation, always turning a critical eye to my decisions, words and choices, this question has a plethora of answers. It reminds me of a movie entitled Sliding Doors, where the story is told twice, based on a train both caught and missed. The unfolding of one’s life based on a moment can be powerful and perhaps a bit providential.

A few things come to mind: I could relive the last moments I had in my father’s presence, before he walked out the door. Our next meeting would be in the viewing room of a funeral parlor. I would choose words to say, rather than the silence that marked that moment. I could go back to the moment I found my grandmother in the throws of a fatal stroke. I would later know she could hear me and understand- a gift lost to her by the time I could finally focus on something other than emergency personnel and her health. I would tell her the things she already knew, but I would have wanted to say anyway. Over and over I cherry pick events that could be re-worked, nuanced by actions or language.

Ironically, those are not the moments I would choose. I would choose a time when I was offered a promotion by my boss. I turned it down because I doubted my skill set was adequate to excel at the position. A few months later, the company would close and I would seek the same position at a new company. My competition would be the gentleman who applied for and received the position (with identical education) and worked it for a few months. He was hired because he had experience.

I feel that moment of self doubt was defining. Certainly it set into motion a particular set of events. I often wonder what would have come of that trajectory. Would I have ended up in ministry after a time? All the experiences that have defined my recent past- like meeting my German friends (Martin and Dietmar are pictured above) or witnessing thousands of people line the Elbe river in Hamburg, holding candles and singing German hymns- are memories too important to squander on one moment.

The pastor in me says that God brings you to the place you are meant to be; but even as the words form I know that free will works overtime at creating sabotage. It takes great faith to sit idle or trust the path you walk and not attempt to control or undermine it. If you can stay present, loving yourself and others, it will go well with you, as it should.

Perhaps I’ll return my free pass. Turns out I won’t need it after all.

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