Some time back, the BBC bravely produced the last two screen plays written by Dennis Potter - Karaoke and Cold Lazarus. Dennis was dying of cancer when he wrote these two TV plays.
The plot of Karaoke is a kind of autobiographical piece. It is about a screen writer who finds himself trapped in his script. As in Karaoke, where the performer sings the scripted words, so life seems often determined, set by fate. The issue is whether the script has a life in itself and the writer a mere performer, or whether the writer is free and independent of his script. Shakespeare touched on the same idea when he declared that life is a stage and we are but mere players acting out the script. In the end, Dennis Potter proclaims his freedom to set his own path in life. The fates may conspire, but he writes his own life and his own ending. Such is life, such is life for each one of us.
"What will be, will be." When your number's up". Fatalism is alive and well today. The ancients submitted to fate, and we children of the new age are often just as fatalistic. It's as if our destiny is written in the stars.
Christians will often speak of God as if he is a divine computer controlling his creation, running it like a robot. We call it God's sovereign will. Many believe God plans where we live, whom we marry, where we work and so on. Of course, if we become ill, have to sell our house, our marriage goes down the drain, or we get the sack from work, we then wonder why the fates conspired, why God acted so wilfully against us. Unable to blame God for our misfortune, we come up with other explanations like unconfessed sin or little faith. Maybe he's asleep and needs a wake-up call.
God is a sovereign God. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. His sovereign will does determine our destinies in some very important areas. He has determined to gather a people to himself through Jesus Christ, and nothing can stop this plan unfolding. The day will come when Christ will return and in that day, all who have put their faith in Jesus will be gathered into eternity. Yet, God has also determined to give created humanity qualities of divinity - "In his image he created us." We possess the image of holiness that is, we possess innate morality (we know right from wrong), community (the capacity to love) and power (freedom). Yes indeed, we are free beings. The fate that conspires is but circumstance. The only fate that controls is the sin we enslave ourselves to, but that's another story.