“But when God, who set me apart from my
mother’s womb and called me by his grace…” Gal 1:15
I was almost given away for adoption as an infant, for according to a fortune-teller, I
would grow up to be someone “unfortunate” to the family and my grandparents
seemed to have taken the warning seriously.
“I would never let them do that to me,” my mother told me when I was visiting her for
the last time before she became gravely ill.
That was the first time I heard about this, and I found it hard to believe since I was the
first grandson in the family and was supposedly to be treasured. Could my
mother have been wrong?
When I was growing up I never felt that I was pampered by anyone within my rather large
family of thirty-some members except by my parents. I guess my fate was sealed
by a fortune teller, who most likely knew nothing about what I was going to
turn out to be. Or was it likely that he somehow had the foresight to see that
I would become the only Christian in my family, which would be considered quite
“unlucky” for my entire household.
Indeed I was set apart from my mother’s womb to be God’s son and servant.
I was never abused physically as a child, but verbal abuses I have endured aplenty. I never
felt that I truly belonged in the family and often had a sense of alienation,
which caused me to run away from home at the age of thirteen. My parents were
very loving to me, yet I seemed to have great difficulty identifying with my
family and with its customary practices of idolatry. I was indeed an alien and
an outcast in my own family.
The apostle Paul had no such problem, I presume. He must have been treasured by all people
as a boy and was universally lauded as a young man, yet he was set apart to be
God’s chosen vessel just the same. All the things he experienced were merely
preparations for what he was going to do as God’s servant. Paul considered
himself “the chief of all sinners,” yet he believed the sovereign God had a
hand in all that transpired in his youth, and he was able to proclaim with
confidence: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”
We must embrace our past, no matter how undesirable and atrocious it may have been,
knowing that God preordained all things to take place, be they good or bad from
our perspective, to fulfill his perfect plan for our lives. I would have
preferred to have an entirely different family background, a more superior physical
appearance and intellectual ability, a more prestigious educational background,
and the list goes on. But what we consider best for ourselves may easily turn
out to be the worst.
Some of the members of my extended family actually have become rich and are the envy of their peers, but
would I trade what I am with who they are? Not in a million years. To be
anything other than what the Lord desires and designates for me is to descend
into utter nothingness.