Bruce Logue: "Was it REALLY 'Meant to Be?'"

My friend, Pastor Bruce Logue, wrote this article recently, and I asked his permission to repost it. I think you'll enjoy...

The little antique clock is beautiful and sits ensconced on a friend’s desk. It is dome shaped, hand wound, and has a little moving bird to show the movement of seconds. She was so delighted to have found the little treasure, she said, “It was meant to be.”

I’ve heard “meant to be” used to describe a lot of things.

“I got the greatest parking spot today. Right across from my destination. It was meant to be.”

“You should see the great bargain I picked up today at the clothing store. It was meant to be.”

“We got our child enrolled in a great pre-school. It was meant to be.”

“Meant to be” is a nice thought. Someone cared about my well-being and arranged for me to get the thing I wanted. However, my mind goes nuts when I hear that. Inevitably I start thinking about all the events that had to be arranged in order for THAT event to happen.

In order to get the parking spot, the person before you had to park there and then leave at just the right time as you happened to be driving by looking for an empty parking spot.

Or the clothing you bought had to be designed by a designer, chosen by a clothing line, ordered by a department store employee, and overlooked by lots of shoppers just so that you could walk by and pick it up.

But “meant to be” gets really complicated when you start to think about all the other events, bad events, that occur in life. Are they “meant to be” as well? What about the drunken driver that killed a friend? Meant to be? Or the violent robbery? Or the stolen property? Or the spousal abuse?

“Meant to be” is not so comforting then. Especially if you think that Someone deliberately arranged for a bad thing to happen to you. In the case of my childless friend, he wondered why a crack addict could have a baby and he couldn’t. He would raise a loving responsible person. The crack addict would create another crack addict.

Did Someone reserve that little clock in a foreign country just for my friend? I doubt it. The logistics of that feat become outrageous.

Was my friend childless because of some universal plan? Doubt that too. There is no reason or justice in denying a godly person a child while giving a helpless infant to a person who will only destroy the innocent life.

Sometimes “meant to be” is just an expression. A way of saying “look at the great thing I just found.” At other times it is the cruelest thing you can say. Ask my friend about the pain of being told that his childlessness was “meant to be.”

Oh. My childless friend now has two children, born naturally to him and his wife. I learned to ignore people who think they can peer into the heavens and know what is “meant to be.”

Pastor Bruce Logue, LifeSpring Church
Merced California
Bruce contributes at
The Merced Sun-Star

Bruce, I really appreciated this piece. It's perilous business (if sometimes conveniently-cathartic) to give God active responsibility for every event and occurrence in our lives. It'd like to think the universe itself, for better AND for worse, has some modicum of free will... but I do pray for those rare exceptions. And in some ways, I pray that they truly are rare.



Pam Hogeweide said...

This post reminds me of how much I respect Bruce. It's been too long since he and I last chatted!

I am totally with you on this "meant to be" philosophy. I think it is an attitude of fatalism. When a very close friend and her toddler daughter were killed in a head-on collision in '07, too many people said to me, "God had his reasons." I finally exploded at one unsuspecting person, "Bullshit!" My friends death was not a crisis of faith for me and I did not need to rely on a Christianized fatalistic view on tragedy.

I'm like you...bad things happen in this life. It rains on everybody, those who pray and those who don't.

At the same time, like you, I think it's a conveniant cliche to summarize a sense of destiny or good fortune.

But it still annoys me.

Maybe that's meant to be... :)

Thank you Peter for posting Bruce's article here. Great writing, Bruce, and so great to bump into you. Let's talk SOON!!

Sabio Lantz said...

Indeed, this is a great corrective to some Christian thinking. Interestingly, perhaps, I picked up a notion from Asia that for me captures the wonder of meaningful connections, events and people without the notion of a puppetmaster deity: En (Japanese) or Yuan (Chinese).

And when others make statement like "meant to be", I try to do a generous translation when possible, but often, it is just wrong -- as Bruce wrote.
Thanks for the essay.

Al said...

If we assume that 'it was meant to be' once, then it HAS to happen all the time, then we have made God to be someone he hasn't claimed to be (Sabio's puppetmaster). Just because we find a nice parking spot once doesn't mean we can expect it every time we need one.
The same would be true for prayer--we can't assume that God will answer 'Yes' every time. More than the logistical work that Bruce mentions (which wouldn't be an issue for God), it would be impossible to answer when opposing football teams both pray for victory.
But we still have to leave room for God to be specifically kind when he so chooses--even if I didn't even pray about a parking spot. My understanding of God is that he loves me a lot. In fact, he is especially fond of me (The Shack). So, sometimes he sends some serendipitously cool thing my way--like friendships with people like you.
After saying all that, I'm still trying to figure out my personal balance between 'God has a wonderful plan for my life.' and 'It's all up to me.' I think I'll "pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on me." (John Wesley)
Thanks for reposting this.

Sabio Lantz said...

"we still have to leave room for God"
No "we" don't. We all don't have to live with your myths.

Al said...

Sorry, Sabio. You have a valid point. There is a place for being as inclusive as possible and not having an 'us and them' kind of fortress mentality. Then there is a place for not assuming others share ones own personal biases/beliefs/points of view.

Sabio Lantz said...

Than you Al !
-- Inclusivist thinking is a nice compromise for Christians though ideally I'd love to see them move toward pluralism. But that may be asking a bit much. Peace !

Broken follower... said...

I like this, and resonate with it a lot. I get the same heebie jeebies when someone says that everything happens for a reason, that though we can't see the meaning of it now, doesn't mean there isn't a reason. I can "cop-out"... It almost like getting yourself out of sitting down and listening to a friends hurt and being there to love and care for them, because guess what "It's meant to be" so you're good now, congratulations! .....

Thanks for sharing that post Pete!

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