If the title rings a Christmas bell, it’s because it’s a line from “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” which goes,
Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow…
In addition to being one of the more sad and tragic Christmas carols, this line has always been curious to me. Why? Well, first off, it’s a particularly secular verse of poetry for a genre of music that has admittedly blurred the lines between the sacred and the secular. Secondly, If the fates allow is a rather bleak line, isn’t it? It leaves the listener no room for providence, for God to weave His sovereign hand of care through the intricate comings and goings of our lives, where the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Upon further reflection, what bothers me most about this verse is, well, me. I realize how much I apply my own brand of superstition and dumb-luck to the plans I make, especially as we inch closer to pressing the reset button on the first of January.
If I’m being honest, and there’s no reason to lie here, “If the fates allow” surfaces how much I default to being a fate rather than faith driven follower of Jesus. And here’s what’s happening when fate drives me. I become:
1. Anxiety-ridden: This is the pre-occupied, agitated, awake at 3am, can’t get back to sleep, going through agonizing mental checklists version of Ronnie who worries his way through life and ministry since everyone is depending on him for their sanctification.
2. Fear-driven: This is the cynical, karma-believing, superstitious, master of my own destiny version of Ronnie who is afraid when things are going too well because God must have term limits on His blessings, especially since He’s probably unhappy with him, anyway.
For some reason, these gross realities seem to become even more exaggerated and glaring during the Christmas season. Does this describe a part of you? When you look back on 2017, do you see a year filled with a thousand irreversible instances that feel like chains you now have to carry throughout eternity like Jacob Marley? Do you feel like every decision you make becomes the angry, disapproving god of your life when the consequences turn a little sour?
What I’m describing is the all-condemning, all consuming nature of the fate-driven life. It is predatory, ever seeking control while speaking against God’s control over both the decisions and consequences of our lives. The problem with fate is that God is not acquainted with it.
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; –Isaiah 59:1
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. – Psalm 115:3
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. –Psalm 97:9
One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all & in all. – Ephesians 4:5-6
These verses remind us that our decisions and consequences are NOT GOD. But in His sovereignty, God uses the consequences of our decisions for our good. He uses the death of some things to resurrect other things. God always has control over the uncontrollable consequences of our decisions. We need look no further than Christ and the cross. All of the seemingly wicked, uncontrollable events that led to the consequence of the cross were under God’s control. And through God’s decision to sacrifice His son, we enjoy the consequence of life as the result.
A faith-driven person replaces fate with the face of a loving Father. This doesn’t mean that tragedy loses its tragicness, or that the holes that loss leaves become automatically filled. It’s that through the holes, we finally see that His shadow was always looming. And we realize He’s never not been there, but is always at work, and always unfolding His plan for His people that bears testimony to His character as a loving, caring, and intentional Father, who has a flawless track record of restoration.
The most damning characteristic about fate is that it obliterates faith, which is how we please God, know the path of life, receive fullness of joy and experience pleasures forevermore.