“You don’t have to decide anything yet,” I told her in the car.

She was quiet.

I had noticed that she was a bit shut down at the picnic. “Were you afraid?”

“I felt insecure. I felt a little lost.”

“That’s okay,” I reassured her. “We’ll go out for the Christmas party and see how things go then. That will be fun.”

“I want to get a drink,” she said.

“What?”

“Hot chocolate.”

“Oh, at the Christmas party, okay.”

We had just left a Sunday afternoon picnic at a live-in community for people with disabilities where my daughter was a guest. We’ve applied for her to live there. She isn’t sure. We aren’t either.

“One of the things that scared me is that some people were crying. One girl just started screaming. It was random. Then another one. It kind of freaked me out.”

“Yeah, I said, I get that.”

She lives in two worlds, one disabled, one abled —  or somewhat abled — seeing none of us are without issue, without compromise, not the norm in some way. This creates a dilemma. Where does she fit?

In both; in neither. She is marginalized. She is disabled, but able, high-functioning, crossing back and forth between two communities of people.

It’s tough, but, in a way, we all have some of this, a bit of marginalization, a bit of fitting and not fitting, the need to find our people, not being able to do that, the need to find where we belong, feeling uncomfortable in the search.

Finding community can be tough. I’ve thought about it lately. Mostly in life, I’ve made the people I got my people. I think many of us have done this. We make friends with the people at hand. Who else is there?

We chose to befriend the people at work, next door, at the store, at church, at the temple, in school, because they are the ones there.

It’s actuality, this is the normal way in which community works. We make a neighbor, our neighbor,  a community our community, by choice, at least at first, because they are near.

It’s not alway easy, or comfortable, or secure, community building, but it’s something beautiful and special, choosing what you get, choosing the option most in front of you, not because it’s a perfect fit, but because you make it fit.

Some wise people, thinking about exactly this, have called this love.

“I try not to ascribe motivations to people,” my brother said to me. It tried to go past me, the nonjudgmentalism of his reticence. Quiet responses often do.

I love to attribute motive, quickly, with not much information — many of us do.

“We don’t know what they are thinking,” our realtor said to my wife and I. Our realtor was talking about the buyer we were trying to sell our house to. Our realtor was right. We didn’t know the buyers frame of mind. We didn’t know his aesthetic, his price point, his cash on hand, his shopping culture, his end game.

I’ve heard this a lot lately, people admitting what they don’t know about other people.

“We don’t know his people skills.”

“We don’t know what triggered this.”

“We don’t know why she did that.”

The truth is, when it comes to each other we are often in the dark, and the light we shine on each other with our “take,”  our sense of them, our labels — these often miss the mark.

“Oh, yeah, she is a conservative,” someone says, as if that explains her.

“He’s left wing, she’s hurt, he’s an addict, she’s stuck, he’s jealous, she’s angry” — we just can’t stop assigning motives, explain away each other, attaching labels, as if then we have them, in our grasp, “the little rats,” and can disagree with them, or fight them, or dismiss them.

Am I saying we shouldn’t?

I’m saying we do, a lot.

We judge — even if we are told not to. And there is not much hope for us not judging.

It’s just that we might do well to realize that figuring someone out isn’t the same as assigning a label, and it is often much more complicated than their one “screwed up” thing.  Motives are complicated, even sometimes contradictory. Motives are convoluted, multi-pronged, obfuscated by so much smoke, so many mirrors.

Perhaps it would help to just work on figuring ourselves out, or at least leave the “helping” or figuring out others to doctors and professional therapists.  Perhaps it would help me, and most of us really, to simply turn more away from critiquing others  and focus on our own motives, spend time on our own confabulations. This is probably the only route to real change — when change is needed —  the intimate, personal “Aha,” the “Wow, so that’s going on with me,” some interior, existential epiphany that is so needed.

“What’s driving me?” or “Why did I do that?” or “What am I getting out of this?” — these are good questions and figuring such things out can be quite empowering and healing. And understanding ourselves better can point toward some new stuff, new adventures and even perhaps new and better understandings of others.

But assigning motives to others, I’d personally like to move away from that more and more.

I’ve been learning from some of  my trusted friends that attributing motives to others — that is a bit of a fool’s errand.

The item number was wrong. The bin location was wrong. The website section for checking stock availablity was down, and the phone center wasn’t taking calls “due to high volume.”

When I spoke to the employee behind the info desk at the store about these issues, I said, “Wow, everything seems so organized here. All the nice stacks and rows and numbers, but I couldn’t call or web you to get answers.

“It’s all a beautiful facade,” he quipped.

We laughed.

It is.

IKEA is a beautiful facade

I know.

Last week, when I bolted and screwed the black dinning room table we bought from IKEA together I noted that it all worked well, the screws went in tight, the bolts grabbed nicely, but the surfaces were thin. A micro layer of pretty black paint covered the  Swedish and Russian pine; a thin layer of Ash was glued over the particle board legs.

IKEA is one of the largest furniture companies on Earth. It uses about one percent of the world’s total supply of lumber and sells something like 100 million pieces of furniture a year.

It specializes in veneers and paint. Lots of beautiful facades. Like life.

One could be cynical.

Our new, glossy table won’t be passed down to children or grandchildren. When we move we’ll either give it away, or toss it in the trash.

And yet, and yet veneer — it is at the core of beauty. Beauty is always a surface — a thin soft layer of skin, a sheen on hair, gloss on lips, a momentary sheer of kindness.

What beautiful thing isn’t limned, surfaced, textured, smeared, glazed, laminated or plated?

Virtue, character, principle, integrity — all pieces, all sheen, yet all gorgeous, even if only for the moment, in the instant, for the season.

Are we too denigrate everything because it isn’t an heirloom, perpetual, solid, through and though? Really? Even hard substances are made of particles; the whole shebang is atomistic.

When we moved recently, we gave away our solid oak antiques. We were tired of the tired, old, solid look. And the kids didn’t ‘t want them. Shoot, you could barely sell them on Ebay.

Life has an MDF kind of quality to it anyway; it’s a particle board universe. It’s a hundred million pieces. Even the galaxy is bits and pieces, here and there; solid then fragged again, it’s best look is perhaps the one seen from a great distance.

I love life!

I love the not solid. I love the facade!

It’s the nature of the shinny beast!

IKEA world, here we come!

I’m selling a house and remodeling another one that I’m moving into. This has put me out in the market place, doing business.

Everybody wants their cut. That’s one way to see it. The business dealings seem impersonal, often out of control, with people I don’t know, people who are taking my money. The price is what someone else says it is, for the termites, for the repairs, for the Escrow, for the new flooring, for the countertop fabrication.

The other day my wife met the buyer of our property as she was coming out of our house with her agent. My wife coming home to her soon-to-be not-home. You are not supposed to meet the buyer. You deal with them through your paid representative, your agents. They remain invisible behind the paper, offering and counter offering through intermediaries.

But my wife met the buyer, they exchanged pleasantries, she is a person, a nice person. She too is selling a property, and buying one at the same time. She too is just trying to wisely make her way through this deal.

The market place can feel simply contractual. It’s really personal. Our buyer has her own anxieties, perhaps about paying too much, perhaps about dealing with the needed repairs. In her new home she may not be able to afford new hardwood floors like we can.

This week I met our countertop estimator. He drives an older car. He is not the owner of the counter top company; he too has needs, a schedule, a family. He may not have granite in his kitchen.

What posture might I strike as I do business with him, with everyone I sign contracts with? I am tempted to only be concerned about myself, my money, the best deal I can get, my time, my schedule. But I am dealing with people, people just like me. They have the same needs that I do. Many of them have more needs than I do.

What to do?

I am learning to see contracts differently. They are relationships. I am moving toward wanting the good of the other, not simply myself, to pay what is asked, to pray for the person on the other side of the table, sometimes to even give more than asked, bonuses, tips.

Life isn’t just business. It’s people. It a people business.

I called my dad today. He’s 91 and doing well. He still works; he moves furniture at the retirement campus where he lives.

I caught him up on my life.

I’m crazy busy with transitional activities — selling a home, moving, completely remodeling another home, supporting my two daughters as they transition into adulthood, helping plan and support a succession process at my work.

I always try to get my dad to tell me what he’s been thinking about. He’s a thinker, a very spiritual person, philosophical, a reader, idea-centric.

I thought I’d get nothing this time but then out it popped. He’s been thinking about the “quietness of God’s presence.”

I asked him what that means.

He said, “I can’t sleep at night. I wake up. I don’t know what to do so I just enter the quietness of his presence. I don’t say anything. I don’t pray. I just worship. I’m dumb before him.”

I like it. I told my dad I like it; I do. I can’t imagine why I’d like this right now, but “hmmm.”

He finished up by saying, “In the quietness of his presence the answers will come. When I don’t know what to do, I just wait. The answers will come.”

I’m so busy, and so not quiet. I’ve been so anxious of late, slammed with the tyranny of the processes I am currently caught up in. I’m so in need of the quietness of The Presence.

What a fresh-breath idea from my old, quiet papa!

I hung up the phone, with our mutual “bye, bye’s” and a good sense of what to do next.

Ever tried to do something, and it didn’t work?

I recently got some nice portabella mushrooms out of the frig to grill and had to throw them away.  

The mushrooms had grown hair!

It’s weird, but I prefer my mushrooms, like my babies — bald.

This week I drove to a meeting only to find it had just been cancelled —  by text —  but I hadn’t looked at my phone for a half-hour and didn’t know that. You don’t check this  (hold up mobile phone) every 15 minutes — you’re history.

Then last week my daughter and I went to our backyard to clean it up and we got so frightened we had to run inside and call the fire department.

I often experience “failure of purpose.” 

And this … has led me to a startling and unexpected conclusion: 

I’m not God! 

Wow! How disappointing.

 And you aren’t either.  

But here is the truth.

Isaiah 46:9-10, God speaking says:

I am God, and there is no other;

    I am God, and there is none like me.

I make known the end from the beginning,

    from ancient times, what is still to come.

I say, ‘My purpose will stand,

    and I will do all that I please.’

God is so different from me. He can do all he pleases!

He can clean up the backyard.

Isaiah 46 is called the book of comfort. It is Isaiah’s words addressed to the Jewish exiles returning home from Babylon. 

After sending his precious ones into exile for their idolatry, God is bringing them home again to Jerusalem.  

Why were they exiled? They had looked to Bel and Nebo, Mesopotamian and Canaanite gods of fertility and wisdom for help, not the one true God.  

And so God said to them, “No, I alone am God. There is no other. Only my purpose stands.”

In other words, God was telling them, I am sovereign.

To say God is sovereign is to say he is in control and that his purpose will be fulfilled.

And what is God’s purpose?

His purpose is clearly stated at the end of Isaiah 46, in verse 13. 

I am bringing my righteousness near,

    it is not far away;

    and my salvation will not be delayed.

God’s purpose is bring us home, from exile, to return us to himself, and make us righteous. 

I spent a good deal of time during July painting the inside of a house. 

I hate paint!

Paint won’t mind. Paint loves to migrate. 

Pry up a paint lid and the paint will literally jump out, and fly onto your hands, up your elbows, onto your face and into your hair. 

Paint reminds us that … we are not sovereign. 

Paint is sovereign! 

No, God is.  

Rev 21:4-6 confirms what we read in Isaiah 46. 

“I am making everything new!” …says God in Christ. “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true … It is done. 

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

God, is in control of newness, of cosmic paint, of the end product, even when we mess up. 

And, like Israel, we do mess up. 

We bow to the modern, mini-gods of success, image, health, money and work. 

But  God alone … can save. 

He can paint justice where there was oppression, and righteousness where there was sin.

God is sovereign …  and … He is good.

Why add good? 

Why add, “He is good.”

 Because his power can make him seem scary, and some theologians have taken sovereignty too far, and have claimed that God even wills and ordains evil. 

They extend his sovereignty to everything.

But, this not correct. 

Evil is something we do, not God, with our free wills. 

And here is where sovereignty gets quite mysterious.

What is God responsible for and what our we? 

Scripture tells us God is sovereign and yet it also clearly indicates God has given us free will.

This is not a sermon on free will, but when Paul writes in Romans 14:12 that “each of us will [have to] give an account of ourselves to God”  This clearly indicates we have agency, and will be held responsible for our actions.  

It’s quite a complex mess really … and when we add in nature’s role (earthquakes, viruses, dangerous beasts) the whole sovereign thing gets even stickier. 

Last week — as I mentioned earlier — my daughter Rosalind and I were working in our backyard picking up old baseboards we took out of the house. 

Some of the wood was under a roll of carpet we had thrown out, so she asked me to move the heavy carpet. 

I picked it up and underneath, right at my feet was — a diamondback rattle snake!

I went airborne.

 In one-half a nano second Rosalind and I were back inside the house. 

And the equally terrified snake was … back under “his” carpet. 

Life is out control!

Three phone calls later, the fire department came, and they calmly caught the snake with their pincher stick, and put it in a bucket and took it away. 

 I love firemen!

They told me. “Yeah, the snakes are good. They control the rodent population.”

Sheesh!  I’d rather have furry little mice and Ratatouilles.

“Snakes, why did it have to be snakes!”

And the terrified snake is now saying, “Humans, why did it have to be humans with a pincher stick, and a bucket!”

Why?

 Because our sovereign God decided on snakes as part of a healthy natural ecosystem, and then he let them go … where they please!

God is sovereign, but he is also wild, and he made a wild, free world. 

And that wild world is not safe, yikes!

I am learning something else I don’t want to learn. 

God is in ultimate control, but that doesn’t mean he that he micromanages life to be easy or perfectly safe or just what I want.

I think the hardest part of sovereignty is when things don’t go my way.

I want no snakes!

I want no problems!

But the world God made is empowered, wild and free — fires, bacteria, poison beasts, poison people.

And so from a wild, beautiful, snaky, diseased, idolatrous, sin-sick world we cry out Papa, help!

“Oh great God, come save us within this dangerous-beautiful world!

And here is where we can gain hope.

As Isaiah recorded, God saves, he restores, and he brings us home.

And it is in Christ that God works out his ultimate sovereignty and his salvific purpose.

Colossians 1:17-18

 He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

The salvation promised in Isaiah 46, and confirmed in Rev. 21,  is completed in Christ. 

Jesus is the supremacy and sovereignty of God and by his death for our sin, he has cleaned up our back yard and he will remove the snake!

Jesus fulfills God’s purpose in us — and we are best when we look to him, no matter how out of control life seems. 

My brother Steve has cancer. Many in our church pray for him. 

I asked Steve recently, “How do you pray for yourself. 

Steve wrote back his answer on Friday night:

“How do I pray and live?

 I don’t ask for the cancer to leave. 

I don’t even ask for a mitigated, lighter response.

I ask for God to help me not be a grump, to be thankful and kind to Joyce [his wife], to keep my mouth shut or think and pause a bit before I speak because I am in such an agitated state [because of the chemo, Benadryl,  and steroids].

I am asking God to help me live into the values or ways God calls me to live, Thy kingdom come not mine. 

I’d like to be healthy and not have bruises up and down my left arm & hand from doing yard work.

 I’d like not to be up right now, in the middle of the night. 

I’d like to carry the idol called health and image, the one most bowed to here in Southern California, but it ain’t happening.

[But, he finishes] I do believe God will bring good to me during this season.”

Steve is rejecting the lesser-California gods of health and image. 

And he is rejecting the false notion that he is god, and can control his life. 

 Steve is looking to Christ to fulfill God’s purpose in his life.

 Bruised and battered, Steve is living Romans 8:28, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Using our free wills wisely, we can align with God’s purpose, and pray to be loving — no matter what is happening — and choose to whine less. 

Do this: Choose no other god than God.

And do this. Believe that God is sovereign.

He is sovereign over mushrooms, meetings, paint, snakes, California culture, our bodies, our souls —  over everything.  

God, has got it! 

God, has got us! 

God alone will save us and brings us home from our exiles.  

It is a great mystery, but we, his people, through God’s sovereignty, will be okay. 

I am God, [says the Lord] and there is no other.

Isaiah 46:9

Reality — you can learn something from it. You can learn how to work with it.

First you must accept this: Stuff will resist.

Time and money are particularly ornery. Estimate how long a project will take and how much it will cost, then double that and you might be close — or still a bit shy. Cost is like shaving cream in a can. Press the button and it expands in you hands. Time is like a cumulous cloud over the mountains; it billows into the stratosphere.

Then there are objects — put them to work and they will war with you. You pick up one thing and other things move with it. They jump, fall, dive and zipline together — usually in the direction of the floor, and chaos.

Take long, stingy things —  they are the worst! They knot, wrap, tangle and snag. Garden hoses are particularly uncooperative. Walk anywhere with one, it will reach out and hook on a door knob, a sprinkler head, a plant. And it gets worse. Hoses are also kinky. No matter what virtuous, moral and cooperative nature was claimed on the cardboard they came with, they bend back on themselves and resolutely refuse to give water, until you walk over to them and give them what for.

And then there is the dry stuff —  it gets on you. Sawdust, Splenda, flour, sanding dust — they are the worst. Sand a cabinet, the dust generated will cover the walls and floors and blinds of your home. Dust loves your hands, your face, your hair; give it a chance and it will go for your lungs, and try to kill you.

Wet stuff, the same — extremely irritating. Take caulking, take paint — it wants to go, to be free.  Pry up a paint lid and the paint will run, jump and fly up your elbows, up your neck and into your hair. Water, it covers over 70% of the planet, and wants more.

What to do?

Make friends with reality, as it really is — volitional. Accept this. The material world is full of will, intention, agency — and conspiracy.  You are in less control than you think. Stuff will have its way!

The answer, the way to sanity, the route to hope — it lies in letting stuff go about its business as it will.  Let stuff have its say, its day, its moment in the sun. Let it act, as it will — and be dangerous if it must — where it can do the most good,

Dollars, hours, hoses, flour, paint  — you have to work with them; you have to let them resist. Then you have to be nice; you have to talk sweetly to them; you have to talk them into helping. And if you do, they can help you renew and restore the world!

Today, I hammered to pieces a tile countertop. It was messy and loud. The hardest hammer blow was the first. To strike the gleaming white, uncracked tile seemed wrong, but it was a “Wham!” toward better. 

I’ve done this before, destroyed a kitchen, but it’s been awhile so I Googled how.  Seconds later, there it was, my exact white, tile counter on the screen and a guy knocking and prying it into oblivion.

Perfect! 

Got it! 

You whack off the outside edge first — with a bucket below to catch the debris — then you shove a power bar underneath the supporting plywood, and you the pry it up  — plywood, mortar, tile, grout and all.  

What did we do before Youtube?

The mind is constantly seeking knowledge, the “how-to,” the “Why?” “ and the very best buy. We want to know the conveniency, the piquancy, the frequency and the decency.  Sometimes we need answer for, “What the heck?” 

A friend of mine just got diagnosed with acute leukemia. Tough! It’s rough! “Heck!”

Why does she have cancer,  and not me? “Hmmm,” even just thinking of this question, I detect a smidgeon of survivor’s guilt in me  — and some survivor’s gratitude.

I can figure out how to do some things — break stuff — but not how to fix some stuff, and not why some things happen to us, especially the things that cave  us in. Google has some answers. They don’t always satisfy.

Chance, choice, DNA, fate, karma, acts of God, poor diet, chemicals, providence, rats, flees, volcanoes — we all want explanations, something we can grab on to, something we can live with. But we don’t always get them. We can Google “countertop demolition” and we can Google “leukemia” and we can Google “housing market, “ but we still might not know why life comes to our door the way it does — or does not. 

We know; we don’t. We keep trying 

Maybe we shouldn’t. Some things don’t have  satisfactory answers. A child drowns. No explanation will do. Often a combination of answers come to mind, sometimes only anger comes to mind, sometimes all we have is blinding, numbing loss.

We are shattered tile. 

But what if having an answer doesn’t always matter. Not knowing where the hammer came from, admitting that we don’t really know — it’s at least honest. We don’t know every how or why or what, so what if we don’t pretend to. 

Why disrespect great suffering with goofy platitudes? Every demolition doesn’t make things better.

 Why demean complex problems with simplistic euphemisms?

 The brave often go on, move on, live on without answers. We don’t have to explain everything in order to live with it.  Perhaps this is the meaning of Proverbs 3:5-6.

Hammered, we may yet live well within a cracked and courageous quietness.

“You can’t fix me,” an older person told me recently, then proceeded to hangup.

I hadn’t said much. I had simply shared a picture of a possibility for dealing with his negative feelings toward himself. I had said, “When the baby cries, we hold the baby, so when our soul cries, we might  …”

He wouldn’t have it, the self-care in it, the personal gentleness with the crying child within.

Of course, the “you can’t fix me,” has some truth to it. I can’t. We can’t. But such a defiant declaration, in this case, felt like a shield, a barrier thrown up, a protective rationalization to avoid changing, to avoid any solutions, to avoid taking responsibility for feelings — a decision to avoid self-care.  This may, indeed, be one of the great temptations of old age, living with a ubiquitous “I’m too old to change” mantra. This can problematize, pathologize and negativize a life.

One person loves their inner person, another hates the self inside, and other doesn’t think of self much at all. We live in the world we create in our minds.

But can change that world, the story, our biography, using insights, using new thoughts,  perhaps using information given us from others. It is possible to re-see our lives and re-story the past. Possible is a post-mythic stage of life, a post-stuck stage, a post-hurt or post-wounded stage of life in which we embrace reality, listen to new voices, seek the corrective perspectives of other family member’s stories, see things and people differently, even accept and experience redemption.

I was always a bit jealous that my older brother was sent away to a prestigious prep school when he was thirteen. It seemed to me, in this, that my parents were more invested in him than me. Recently, he told me that the experience caused him to experience an acute homesickness. Being separated from his family — it was full of pain.

Story-listening, I realized I would have felt the same. I would not have wanted to be away from home, family, hearth, pets, privacy, the safe harbor of mom and dad and brothers either. So, I can drop the envy. It was misplaced. I have; I do. I am now glad I wasn’t sent away to school.

It’s narrative psychology. We live in the world we create in our minds; we can change that world. We can, with other family member’s help, even perhaps co-author a new world, a different story, a more positive narrative.

We can. 

Perhaps — if we are open to grace, and healing.

“Nature is, above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a manic-depressive with limitless capital.

Extravagance! Nature will try anything once. This is what the sign of the insects says. No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you’re dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, set it clacking on the grass; there’s always room for one more; you ain’t so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy; thought nothing is lost, all is spent.”

Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

My brother Steve is making friends with randomness — kind of.

This morning he mentioned to me that during his hospitalization for his stem cell transplant — four years ago — a butterfly came to the window of his hospital room everyday.

It was a snatch of beauty, experienced in a tough season, and it helped carry him through. The bright, fluttering wings —  it was mobile brightness and beauty much needed in a shadowy moment.

Was it providential?

Was it random?

He and I both think the fly flies somewhere in the cracks of the flyway.

God isn’t up there — or somewhere — pulling the puppet stings for every small event in the universe, sending out insects, calling in winds, pronouncing sneezes.  Surely God isn’t sending butterflies to sick people, but not all of them. Not everyone gets one.

I am sure God can do what he wants, intervene when he wants, intrude if he wills — and he does —  but I really can’t imagine God as a universal micromanager. He couldn’t possibly be that bored, that controlling or that tyrannical. He may know every sparrow that drops, but he doesn’t map all their paths, fly them into windows — which they are prone to do — or continuously fly them past all invalids, and the valids too, in need of a sign.

First off, and perhaps last too, God already has sent stuff our way simply by making us and making so freakin’ much of it —  of stuff.  God is Annie’s “manic-depressive with limitless capital.” He made extra, he has gone overboard. He’s a virtual sybarite! He’s a holy, unrestrained debauchee. That much is fairly obvious. Look for yourself.

God made millions or even billions of everything — grass blades, flies, bacteria, spores, mushrooms, rabbits, ideas, daisies. They multiply and die like crazy, the flora, the fauna, butterflies, Madonnas.

Why? Why so much of everything? Well, in this way we an keep running into stuff, randomly, or not, the natural wonder at the right moment, the white tailed deer along the road, the fish jumping in the lake as the sun sets over the shy lovers.

God made enough of everything for the coincidental, for the happenstancial, for the random, for the vigorous and voracious vagaries to just keep showing up. He made so much it just keeps flooding the stage.

God planned plenty for us, from the beginning —  but the plan included not controlling everything. Don’t we have a will? Hasn’t he given us freedom? Is there no instinct? Can’t we make horrible choices? Don’t some things happen by chance? Can’t we reject him?

God seems to be into letting stuff choose, letting something choose, free will, instinct, volition, agency, even chance  — especially once the show was launched. I’m sure of this because anything less on his part would lack confidence, skill, humor, power and foresight.

“Nature is profligate” because God is profligate. God was, is and always will be recklessly extravagant.  It comes from being so resourced.

It means stuff happens.

When it does, is it for you?

Of course it is.