“God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not the choice. You must take it. The only choice is how.” Henry Ward Beecher
If we start at the beginning, our lives are the gift of others. We do not choose, we are a choice. And in the early years we depend on others for what we need to live. Love, shelter, guidance, nourishment and all that is good, or not so good. Like rain gives life to the river, and a river becomes the sea, so our lives begin elsewhere.
The artist Leonardo da Vinci noticed this about rivers and time -
"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time."
In essence, we begin life as the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes. We start out both last and first. And every day thereafter reflects the influence of both.
So when does our life stop being the choice of someone else and start to be something that we determine? The answer begins with the meaning of the word ‘depend’.
To depend means to be at mercy of, be based on, be in the power of, to revolve around. So at the outset our life’s course is pre-set, pre-determined, pre-arranged. We are not so much ourselves, more the reflection of someone else.
We do not choose to take the gift of life, we do not choose the manner in which that gift is given. Our choice starts when we are able to take the gift and make it good. To make the best of this life, this present. Even if that is what it is: pre-sent.
Our lives may start elsewhere, but if we are to make the most of this present, we need to look to the Gift Giver
‘The great danger facing all of us is not that we shall make an absolute failure of life… The danger is that we may fail to perceive life’s greatest meaning…miss its deepest and most abiding happiness…be unconscious of life ablaze with the light of the Presence of God’ Phillips Brooks
Maybe we need to accept the gift of His love, unlike any other. The first, and last, and always love that speaks our name. As if it were the only name.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.." Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
For anyone who has received very imperfect love, the hardest thing to know is this: God loves us unconditionally and perfectly. His love does not seek to harm but to heal, does not seek to control but to free, does not seek to criticise but to affirm. But this, my friend, is where the search for life starts and ends. In His arms. He is the only One who can deliver us, and those dear to us, from the love story that we have inherited. He is the only One who can help us write a brand new story.
Rivers can rage, overflow their banks and destroy what lies in their path - or they can restore, run within safe limits and nurture good things. God does not ask us whether we will accept life. That is not the choice. The choice is what we decide to do with the gift He has given.
“Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm,like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.” Isaiah 32:2, NIV
We begin life like rivers and time; the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes. The question is, what will we do with the present?