Thursday, June 30, 2011

In Past Lives

I think it is interesting to learn about what people were like in their former lives. I recently met a fellow graduate student at a conference in New Orleans, who I assumed was probably a nerdy academic like the rest of us. When we became facebook friends, I learned that she was a former beauty queen! I have met other people who are former professional athletes, musicians, and drug dealers. Some people are surprised to find I am a former hockey player and community college instructor.
I cannot help but wonder if many people I know would have been my friends had we known each other during our former lives. Usually I think the answer is “no.” Either our lives would not have had sufficient opportunity to intersect, or we would have found one another uninteresting. The same thing might also have occurred if we met each other in a later point in life, say five years in the future. When I think about it this way, it makes even acquaintances seem very cosmic and serendipitous. We had to meet each other at this time in our development and we just happened to be in the same place.
Jesus told a strange parable in Matthew 13. He talks about a farmer discovering that someone had planted weeds in his field. The workers suggest that they should route out the weeds, but the farmer tells them to wait until they have fully developed. He then explains the parable, saying that the weeds represent the evil among us, who will be separated when the day comes. His character is the farmer, the patient one who was willing to give them time to develop.
This parable gives me comfort because I know that I have closely resembled a weed in times of my life. An impatient farmer might have thrown me in the fire a long time ago.  In the same way, I need to daily realize that everyone I see may be at different stages in their spiritual development. Their current life will soon be their former life. It is not my job to assess them, only to play my part in helping them along.

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