Course Correction

OK, the latest entry from the Gospel of Lost: 😉
(This is gonna ramble a bit before getting to the point, so be patient.)

So about a year ago, a friend of mine came into town whom I had not seen in 16 years. And the 1992 encounter was only for a few minutes; I’d not spent much time with her since my ninth grade of high school.

And I had sort of a weird realization. When I go back to Indianola, where I lived seven years ago, people are surprised when they see me — I’ve lost a good bit of weight, etc. since living there. There’s very much a “wow, you’ve changed” factor there. But for Beth, not so much — I probably seem more like an adult version of the kid she knew today that I would have when I was in Indianola. I imagine I seem more like the 13 year old me now at 33 that I would have at 23.

OK, hold that thought for a moment, while I move on to a completely unrelated anecdote:

A friend of mine went last night to the church where her dad pastors for a community service. Her dad had been the pastor of another church in the community like 15 years earlier, and had been voted out by the congregation. He, and they, went on with their lives, until a while back when an opportunity brought him back to a different church in the same community. Several of the people who had been members of the old church are now members of the new church. And, last night, for the open community service, there were even more of his former flock in the congregation.

OK, hold that one, and we’re going to get back to Lost, as promised in the very beginning:

I’ve been intrigued recently by the similarities between what’s been going on on Lost recently and the book I blogged about recently, God of the Possible. For those that don’t watch Lost, the current season has included a time-travel story. The main characters are now back in time on the island, and there’s been a discussion about whether or not they can change things. The prevailing philosphy has been “Whatever happened, happened” — if they knew when they were in the present that something had occured in the past, then while they’re in the past, they can do nothing to prevent that from happening.

Last week, however, introduced the possibility that it might be possible to make decisions that would change things.

But it sort of echoed a point in the book … Do you really have free will if the future is already decided? If the future can’t be changed, then the characters in the past really don’t have free will to make choices that affect their world.

OK, you can take that thought, and put it aside, but it isn’t really directly relevant to where I’m going with this, but just sets up the foundation for the discussion we were having about Lost and theology.

There’s a fan theory going around that the island is self-correcting, that it has means for making sure nothing happens that changes the timeline.

And that idea of “course correction” brings us back to the community church service. My friend basically asked, what if God does the same thing. She noticed while sitting in the service that it really wasn’t that different than it might have been if her dad hadn’t been voted out of the church. We talked about the idea that maybe that was where he was supposed to be after all, and God used a “course correction” after he was voted out to put him back where he was needed.

While it’s a little bit different, it reminded me of the anecdote that I started this post with. Where I am now seems more like where the road seemed like it might be going when I was in school. In reality, it deviated greatly from that, but then eventually came back closer to where it started. Another course correction, perhaps?

Or, to pick a more concrete example, I had the opportunity to move back to Huntsville ten years ago, but decided not to. That decision led to some of the more difficult times in my life. But another three years after that, another opportunity came to move back, and this time I was in less of a position to decline. There’s no telling how my life would have been different if I had taken the first opportunity; whether the hardships that resulted from not doing so could have been avoided. But did I end up in basically the same place either way in terms of the relevant factors? And what details would have been different if I’d taken the other road? If the course correction hadn’t been necessary?

Have you had any experiences in your life where that’s happened? An opportunity came along that was passed up, but then later events put you in basically the same place? Or has there been a time when the actions of others have affected you negatively, but things worked out to put you back where you would have been if they hadn’t?