By Lisa Huddleston
“For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).
Foreknew, predestined, called—just the mention of these words causes my thoughts to start on a looping journey of unanswerable questions. If God foreknew me and predestined me, then do I still have the ability to choose my own actions? How can He hold me accountable for what He already knew I would do? Can I do anything that is genuinely outside of His will if He has predestined my conformity to His Son? My questions are endless, and there is no way that I can even hope to begin to answer them in 600 words or less. Therefore, please, accept my following thoughts as simply ideas to ponder. Not truths or absolutes but concepts and musings. My thoughts at this moment in my life, at this speck on the time line.
Since I was a little girl, I have felt the hand of God on my life. I suppose I owe that recognition to the training I received from my mother, my grandparents, and my church. As a young child, I think I just had a sense of God’s being happy with me when I did good things and angry when I did bad. But as I grew and faced more serious choices, even dangerous at times, I felt Him as protector and companion. When I was lonely, He heard my cries. When I was angry, He listened to my complaints. When I willfully, even triumphantly, chose to sin, I sensed His sorrow and regretted my selfishness. He knew I was better than my actions proved. He expected so much more from me, His child. In spite of everything, He was my guide, placing a hedge of protection around me, shaping my journey according to His plan. I just couldn’t shake His presence.
Even now I feel Him. Looking over my shoulder as I type these words. Guiding me to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth yet with caution and discretion. He says you don’t need to hear the stringy, bony details of my failures. He knows and that is enough. Yet, sometimes I want to tell it all. To let everyone who sees me as a safe, middle-aged mother and wife know the truth of my existence. I am a tempest of raging contradictions, a boiling pot of confused gumbo, a perfect storm of dissent. See me and know that He is real! Yet, I cannot shake the One Who keeps me in between His hedges. Therefore, even my confession is tempered by His will. His purpose is the thing and only that must be known by those around me.
My choices, my failures, my pain and suffering, my joy and exultation—all these are known by Him, covered over, and shaped by His love. For those He predestined, He also called. He calls me to bend my will to His, to obey, to honor and glorify the One who made me. And those He called, He also justified. Because of His Son in whose image I am being conformed, I am justified. My jagged-edged rebellion is covered by His blood, pearlized by one magnificent coating of Truth, and I am as He is to my Father. And those He justified, He also glorified. To one day share His glory. A past-tense, already decided, and completely undeserved transformation of Grace.
And there I walk. Still between His hedges. Still scraping stubborn elbows against thorny walls of love and scratching my rebellious heart on branches of desire, yet still on His path. Muttering under my breath yet walking. Believing against unbelief that all things will work together for the good of those He calls according to His purpose. Whether I walk to the right or to the left. Feeling the weight of His eternal hand against my back and hearing His warm, breathy voice in my ear, “This is the way, my child. Walk in it” (Is. 30:21).