Have you ever paused to reflect upon the course of events that have brought you to this point in time? How your life might have been different had you chosen another direction?
It is part of our human fabric to dwell on the past and think ‘what if?’ There have been numerous books and films made on the subject. From the classic The Time Machine to Back to the Future, humanity has toyed with the subject of changing the course of events by going back and forth in time. Many sci-fi fans believe in the possibility of time travel and many books have been written on the subject.
We sometimes dwell on the past and often believe that we would be happier if only certain past events could be undone. This feeling is especially true where the illness or death of a loved one is concerned.
But the fact of the matter is that no matter how many twists and turns our lives may take, our destiny can only follow one course. It may sound like a cliché, but whatever is meant to happen will happen. And we can either lament over the situation, or make the most of it.
Man proposes, but God disposes, and man’s destiny is not in his own hands.
Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ
We are so embroiled in day to day happenings that our minds trick us into believing that we are in control. We fret and worry, we keep imagining ‘what if’ scenarios because we believe that somehow by doing so, we can influence the outcome of events. We do not realise that we came into this world with our destiny already written.
Our souls are like tender flowers at the mercy of the winds of destiny. They tremble in the morning breeze, and bend their heads under the falling dews of heaven.
Kahlil Gibran, Voice of the Master
We cannot change the course of events, but we can trust that the Lord has our best interest at heart, just as a parent will do whatever it takes to keep his child safe and happy.
Yet the Masters explain that even though our destiny is preordained according to our past karmas, we do have limited free will. We can choose to take the path that leads us closer to God or away from him. Imagine life as a game of cards: the hand that is dealt to us represents our past karmas; how we choose to play the game is our limited free will.
But the Masters do not leave us to play this hand alone. They offer us encouragement and advice on how to carry on, keeping our true objective in view. They shower us with their mercy, so that we do not need to feel the weight of our heavy load.
This is an age when we look back and start counting his blessings and look around at others and thank the Lord as to how gracious he has been to us, and this leaves us with no regrets in life at all. I am glad destiny is in his hands, and he manoeuvres as it suits him. Otherwise, left to ourselves, I wonder what a mess we would have made of our lives.
Maharaj Charan Singh, as quoted in Treasure Beyond Measure
Despite our limited perspective and short-term view, we think we know what is best for us. But chances are that, left to our own devices, we would very likely make a mess of our lives. If a parent were to satisfy his child’s every desire, the child would probably become ill from too much candy and spoilt with too many toys. Like that child, we have no concept of what is best for us. We tend to focus on the negative and forget the most positive ‘what if’ scenario one can imagine. For if everything is preordained and even our coming to the path is part of his grand design, then imagine, what if …?
Far more than my destiny allows
From your gracious hands I receive;
Yet even my destiny
Is but a gift from you to me.
Anonymous Urdu couplets, as quoted in Legacy of Love