Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile. –Psalm 94:8-11
While flying to Los Angeles last week I met a Jewish electrical engineer going to visit his son at UCLA. My new freind had battled obesity, depression and the unexpected loss of the love of his life. He had overcome much. We spoke of God, eternity, the nation of Isreal and God’s promises for almost three hours. When we were saying our fairwell he asked me if I knew the term beshert. I had not, so he told me it meant; something that was meant to be, like the remarkable coincidences we shared and the fact that we, by some unusual circumstances ended up across the isle from each other.
When I was returning home on Friday, at the airport I was approached by a young man near my gate introducing himself as a good Jewish boy who needed help. He claimed to be a chemical engineering student who had flown west for an interview. He was without a credit card and had discovered his trip back east was canceled for weather and couldn’t get out until tomorrow. He couldn’t get lodging vouchers from the airline and had slept in the airport. He needed some cash for a hotel. This complicated story seemed possible, so regardless of my cynicism I gave him the cash, telling him to get a credit card. He said I was one of only two people that would even talk with him and thanked me profusely, called me an angel, while offering to send me my money back, and also pay it forward.
I looked at him and said “shalom;” then asked if he knew the Hebrew term for something that was meant to be. He said it was beshert. So I told him about how I had just learned this term on Wednesday, and it seemed fitting. He thanked me again and wandered off leaving me with my thoughts. Had I been I conned or was I merely taking a chance to help a desperate soul? I hoped it was the latter. Either way I believed I had made the right choice. It was beshert!
My life continues to be filled with surprises and blessing beyond any reasonable explanation. I deserved nothing but had been given the desires of my heart. I believed this was the result of the unquenchable desire placed in my heart to know God. There are five questions that have persisted as I searched for truth in a complicated world. The appearance of these five questions and my pursuit of their answers was beshert.
- What were the prime sources of revelation and truth?
- Why do we want to know God?
- How can we know God?
- What are our narratives about God and their source?
- What is my relationship with God?
Trying to answer these questions for many years I came to the conclusion that the requirement for finding God was faith. This began with the proverbial “leap of faith.” I had to suspend my disbelief to open my mind.
Because of this I have come to know a loving God, who in grace offered me redemption through the blood of Christ and transformation in the power off His Holy Spirit. I wish I could say that this was always the case. It wasn’t. There was a time when I believed God was angry and expected perfection from me. The punishment for my lack of perfection wasn’t just the loss of God’s love but the terror of the threat of burning forever in a lake of fire. The worst part of this narrative was that it was foisted upon me by people I didn’t trust or respect; and sometimes even those I cared for who seemed to be trying to trick or manipulate me for the sake of their personal satisfaction.
But God was constantly revealing Himself in the splendor of His creation and through the examples of love in the lives of those who had discovered the power of a covenant relationship (Psalm 19). We all owe it to ourselves to determine the truth about God. It is a personal journey that first requires faith and then intent.
Surprisingly, for me, and perhaps this is true for others, a meaningful relationship with God was harder and easier than I ever thought. The biggest surprise was that getting closer to God wasn’t so much the result of my actions, or that I stormed the gates of Heaven by the sheer force of my will. It was in the understanding of my failures and shortcomings. So in my selfishness and pride I amazingly came to see that by surrendering my will and desires to God, I was finally able to connect as I was meant to. When I did, I saw that God had been there all along, loving me, calling me, shaping me and welcoming me to receive my salvation in His incredible Grace.
Instead of expecting perfection in me He offered me perfection in Him. This was when my narrative shifted. It was meant to be. This was beshert.