A couple of years ago, I couldn’t have imagined once giving up my work scheduled, always in the same pattern repeating routine of life. But it happened. And I am glad it did.
Equilibrium between routine and change
Times change and what we do and how we live today may be very different from what our lives will be tomorrow. Change is a part of nature, of life. How we deal with times of change depends much on our personality, our experiences, but also on our worldview. Some get very excited by only thinking of all the possibilities that a new start in life comes with. Others get goosebumps by only thinking of maybe having to sit on a different seat than usual on the bus to work the next morning. Whether we sympathise with those change enthusiasts or change resisters, in the end, we all get to deal with different times in life.
Some amount of routine is important to all of us, and in difficult times it can be one of those things which keep us alive. On the other hand, clinging on to outworn structures can keep us from growing and becoming what we are meant to be. We may not find our way by trying to fit in a sort of standard life pattern. It is true that it might seem much easier to follow the common road, which means for many to get just some job to be able to pay the bills whether it is a job you can bring in your talents or not. We may not always be able to get what would fit best for us, but we can decide for how long we are involved in something less suitable. And of course, also times when we just need to persevere, are part of the journey. However, some of us may be stuck for several years in a place they don’t feel they belong to. And why? Because of fear.
How we see the world
Anything new, everything unusual, be it a new philosophical idea, a way of living or just our neighbours’ house’s new paint can cause some unpleasant feelings in us. Living in a state of routine gives us somehow an illusion of being in charge of our life. When changes occur, and our stable life gets shaken up, we suddenly realise that there are things we have no control over. In the midst of sudden changes, one may well start to wonder if there is any part of life at all we really can control. That is where our worldview comes in.
What we think about the meaning of life has much influence on how we handle everyday life’s ups and downs. In times, when everything goes smoothly according to our plans, we may not much think about any deeper purpose of life. We feel strong and entirely in charge of ourselves and our lives. But when things get difficult, and one hardship comes after another, we lose the feeling of being in control. For some, this is the moment to ask, ”If I am not the one who is in control of my life, who then”?
For one, life is just a series of meaningless accidents, for another, it is an arrangement of structured events which are following a divine plan. I would argue, if life were meaningless, one would not be able to see any meaning in anything, or the other way around – if something or someone has meaning to you, then also life at a deeper level must have. Sometimes we may even experience a strong feeling of purpose although we may not be able to explain where it comes from. It just is. There may be moments in our lives when we feel the urge to get a certain thing done. In those moments there is no doubt of life not having a purpose.
I have always been feeling a strong sense of guidance. I can remember being sure of God’s existence since I was a child. However, I felt that he must not be much interested in mankind since there are so much cruelty and suffering in this world. In my childlike mind, I thought if God were interested in humanity, we would experience only love and peace on Earth. Later I felt the need to make a decision whether to start to get to know about God or to hold on to my childlike assumptions. My view on life has been in motion ever since, and my picture of God has become many new facets over the past two decades.
Changes occur in our life, no matter if we believe there is a reasonable force behind them or not. The crucial point is what you believe change is there for. If you believe life as a whole is meaningless, so would also be change. But if you see a purpose in life, then you also see in change. There is just one question left. What kind of force you think is behind this purpose? Even if your view of this force is more of a general than personified one, your view on whether it has a benevolent or malevolent character will have a huge impact on how you handle change.
In my experience, fear of change comes from assuming that the force behind it has no good intentions towards us. Someone may even think that change itself is negative. What if it is indeed a POSSIBILITY to improve your life? We may walk through a very deep and dark valley before we realise that actually, it was the only way to reach the mountains.
Making choices is based on…
There has always been the debate about whether there is free will or fate, or at least to what extent we can make our own choices. God knows all, but does this also mean, that everything is predetermined? Maybe the outcome of our life is predestined, and the way we achieve our purpose is up to us. Or maybe there are several little things we are meant to learn in this life and the outcome is open. Could also be that literally every move is fated. We won’t know for sure. And does it even matter? We still live our lives, and we make our decisions whether they are predetermined or not. But if you can see the loving force behind the scenes of life, then you may be able to take times of changes as a possibility given to you to learn something new about yourself, people around you and – life itself.
One of the most fascinating books for me has always been the book of Ecclesiastes. Especially the first few verses of chapter 3 have been very reassuring and encouraging, when the writer says right at the beginning ”For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” which is followed by a listing of different contrary phases in life so, for example, the time to keep silence and the time to speak, the time to break down and the time to build up, and so on.
It lies in the nature of man to have an interest in knowing which season of life he lives at the present moment. We may often wonder what life has become and speculate how things would be, if… Sometimes we just don’t have a clue at all what is going on with us and the world. The teaching of submitting one’s will to God can be found in many religions and worldviews. Maybe deep in our hearts we just know, that in the end all that is meant to be, will happen anyways. So why fight the fate? What is actually meant by fate? Is it the same as predeterminism?
A matter of time
It has been said that time is the foundation which makes the thought of free will possible. It actually makes sense, since the division of time into the present, past and future gives us the possibility to make plans, to go for them and in the end, to evaluate them. So we make decisions for which we are also responsible. Although we cannot influence what happens to us, we can indeed choose how to respond to it. So I do believe in free will and self-mastery. On the other hand, I also believe in the concept of an all-knowing and almighty creator God. I remember the many debates I had along the years about free will and fate. I always felt, that there is no contradiction between them, but it was just some time ago that I found a thought which can explain the contemporaneous existence of both. That is to say, the very existence of time.
In the first sentences of the Bible, we can find the story of how God created the world. Some years ago, I drew attention, that one of the first things God created, was TIME. In verse three of Genesis, we can read the well-known words ”Let there be light”. The story goes on and tells us, that after that, God divided the light from the darkness and that he called the light Day and the darkness Night. Follows the statement, that this was the first day. Therefore this is the beginning of time.
”1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” (New King James Version)
Interestingly the creation of celestial bodies is told us to happened later, on the fourth day. So there was light before the creation of the sun (something to think about; although some hold the opinion that the celestial bodies have been created on the first day, but were just set in their places on the fourth day). Anyhow, I love that in verse 14 we get an explanation about what is the purpose of the luminaries and the stars, that is to say, ”…let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” (Genesis 1:14b). In the original Hebrew text the word translated to ‘signs’ is לְאֹתֹת֙ lə·’ō·ṯōṯ, which literally means ‘sign’ or ‘omen’. The word translated to ‘seasons’ is וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים ū·lə·mō·w·‘ă·ḏîm, which means ‘appointed time, place or meeting’. That is exactly how mankind has been using the celestial bodies – to read the time by all meanings. That is how our calendar system and astrology was developed. Where the former gives us the orientation in time, the latter gives us a hint on which ”season” in life we are living in at the present moment. Besides revealing something about the present, astrology can give us understanding about our past but also insights on upcoming tendencies. Some translate verse 14 to ”…as signs for the seasons…”. But one could argue, that there is still the possibility for that verse to indicate the function of celestial bodies for acting as omens telling about ‘appointed times’ (seasons), which could also mean different phases and occurrences in life.
”14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” (New King James Version)
The church has generally been against astrology. However, the verses from the Old Testament which they usually refer to, are rather warnings against divination and sorcery. The Bible does indeed instruct us not to worship the celestial bodies since they are just a part of the creation like you and me. That being a reminder that the stars are not capable of having power over someone’s life. The only force, which is capable of influencing the creation is the creator God himself. That, however, does not deny the creation of being connected within itself, nor that those connections might be able to get observed by man. Astrology is a tool, and as with all tools, it is upon the user how he uses it. Ethics play a fundamental role in working with people, thus also for astrology. The different philosophical approaches to astrology would be a topic for another writing. For now, I think we are doing well by keeping in mind the difference between the creation and the Creator.
Now, the creator is outside of the creation, meaning God is outside of time. Therefore, He is not restricted by time and its division into past, present, and future, that to say everything just IS. The present moment includes all at once. Therefore He is all-knowing. That meaning, according to our minds understanding, He also knows the future. God is also all-mighty. Even if the creation is functioning under specific laws which causal connections can be observed by man and may be seen as part of fate and/or karma, there is always the possibility for God to intervene and therefore change fate due to Him not being restricted either by time, space or matter. The Latin expression “Astra inclinant, non necessitant” (The stars incline; they do not determine), is on point about what I believe is true.
Thoughts in progress
There are a lot of thoughts rising in my mind by reading these Bible passages and writing this text. I’m often thinking about the different layers the stories of the Bible contain. Since there is always a spiritual meaning behind them, it is left open which parts can be understood as actually happened in the physical world in the very manner it has been transmitted to us, and which parts of the stories are meant to be rather metaphorical. Either way, there is a lot to think about. I also like to look at life from different points of view to gain a broader understanding of its nature, but I know that in the end, it will always stay a mystery in some way. How could the creation be able to fully understand itself?
Back to routine and change
Supposed there is such a thing as fate, what benefit could it have to know about it, if you can’t change it anyway? Of course, there is the question whether one believes the insights you get about your life and possible occurrences are predetermined in all ways, or if they are meant to function as a sign of warning or possibility. I guess, we will never exactly know how it really works, but I think that studying fate and our lives (as for example astrology has been the study of fate for thousands of years) gives us tools to get some more understanding of the Divine and to improve ourselves as we get a clearer picture of life and our role in it.
Knowing which ”season” you are living in at the present moment can be a big relief, confirmation, and encouragement at the same time. As for me, the step into a new part of my life has been much clearer since I got some idea what actually had hit me at the time. After studying the present moment and past passages of my life with astrology as a tool, my faith in God’s guidance has been confirmed in many ways, and because of that, there is no place for fear. There is indeed a purpose and a meaning behind everything, and all happens in divine timing. That is also for change.
Sources for the Bible texts:
YouVersion. https://www.bible.com/en-GB/bible/114/GEN.1.nkjv. Accessed 12.06.2018.
BibleHub. http://biblehub.com/lexicon/genesis/1-14.htm. Accessed 12.06.2018.
Scholar’s Gateway beta. https://scholarsgateway.com/search/WLC-LXX-YLT/Genesis/1:1-14. Accessed 12.06.2018.
Samantha Samuels’ writing about astrology and religion. https://www.astronumerologywisdom.com/astrology-and-religion.html. Accessed 18.06.2018.
Genesis in original Hebrew and German translation with comments from Raschi. talmud.de. https://www.talmud.de/tlmd/bereschit-mit-kommentar-1/. Accessed 12.06.2018.