Monday, August 28, 2006

An arranged life

Jana and I returned last evening from the mountains of North Carolina, where we celebrated the wedding of a young couple in, what was commonly referred to by the two families-- not entirely unironically-- as an "arranged" marriage.

Curious term. We thought such things only happened in cultures far away.

Indeed, the story of this bride and groom met is a textbook "set-up." He in New York, she in Charlotte. Her best friend is the daughter of his mom's best friend. They eventually meet under the loving calculations of these mutual friends, and are promised against their protestation that they will hit it off.

They do. They fall in love. They marry. It's an arrangement.

Aren't all our lives arranged by parties and powers outside us who know us better than we know ourselves? We are on the planet not because of any agency of our own, but because two folks conspired to make it so. Whatever the quality of their relationship, they made an arrangement for us to show up.

That we are alive today is attributed not so much to our own powers of self-preservation, but to all kinds of forces converging and collaborating for our good. Did we recruit them? Employ them? Properly pay them? Did we deserve them?

Parents, family, friends, teachers, pastors, mentors, colleagues, healers. They simply meet us, like angels, at just the right intersection, giving us the spiritual and physical provision we need to continue the journey. We don't order them up, like pizza. They appear, as if special arrangement has been made.

Join me today in a weird and wonderful imagination. Be one of those famed flowers of the field Jesus talks about. They don't toil or worry. Sunshine and soil provide them everything they need to be more beautiful than a king's palace. All they have to do is be lovely. That's the arrangement.

I reminded this bride and groom of their arranged marriage.

They reminded me of my arranged life.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Charlie, I needed that, now that I am unemployed.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a Bohemian friend who crossed my path at just the right time. God really can "hit a straight lick with a crooked stick".

Anonymous said...

Right on target. It so eloquently expresses what many think but can't find words to say. For this reader, it was an arranged message.

Anonymous said...

What's up man? I have been enjoying your new blog site. It has been informing, amusing, and most definitely a joy.

I am coming to ATL in October for the conference w/ Tony Campolo. Give me a call or email me so we can get together. My email is

Glad to know the new experience as a classroom teacher is going well. You have always been a "teacher", my friend.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Charlie. Thanks for keeping a commentary going on your site. It provides me spiritual nourishment as well as a good chuckle or two.
Hope all is well with you and Jana.


Sarah said...

I am amazed at God's love for us - He desires good for us and we can trust him with every detail of our life. Your entry reminded me of this truth. I will attempt to be one of those "famed flowers of the field," trusting God to make me beautiful and provide all my needs. Thank you for your entries - they are an encouragement to read.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie,

Just accessed your blog for the first time. Seems like a pretty tough group of responders...

We miss you dearly here in the 'Flatlands'. Hope you and Jana are well in ATL. We will be watching with anticipation of your return to pastoral care...maybe West Texas???

God Bless,

Pat and Amy Bailey
Lubbock, TX