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On Faith: God is not limited by our expectations

September 02, 2011|By Mark S. Miller

Of course, we understand that surprises are intrinsic to life. But we construct our lives around the illusion of control, managing and organizing the details of existence so that we will feel safe.

But no matter the preventive measures we adopt, plans are circumvented and experiences remain beyond our control. This is God's way of keeping us humble, demonstrating we are not as in command as would like to think. Life mocks pretensions to control and we are thrown off course.

A journalist wrote: "Among the few certain truths of 9/11 are one that applies to every day that dawns. That there is no guarantee of tomorrow or the next five minutes. This is the central provision of all contracts between people and their lives. No plans, large or small, are exempt."

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In Jewish parlance, when discussing a future activity ("next month I plan to travel," "next week I plan to buy a new home", "tomorrow I have a planned meeting"), we add in Hebrew, imyirtzeh HaShem, "if God wills," acknowledging that beyond all our plans we need and want to have God's cooperation and blessing that they come to fruition.

For we live in a universe that God manages, not we. We have to meet his conditions as he lays them out.

"For I know the plans I have for you," God declares through Jeremiah. "Your thoughts are not My thoughts," he proclaims through Isaiah.

Life does not have to adapt to us. We are the ones who must do the adapting. We must deal with life as it is, stop monkeying around, and play it as it lays!

MARK S. MILLER is the senior rabbi at Temple Bat Yahm in Newport Beach.

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