Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The Book of Fate

King Henry IV in Henry IV Part II has a few wonderful speeches which are really Shakespeare's musings on the nature of life. This snippet from one speech is one of the hidden gems:

"O God! that one might read the book of fate
And see the revolution of the times....
The happiest youth, seeing his progress through,
What perils past, what crosses to ensue,
Would shut the book, and sit him down and die"
Henry IV Act iii.1

What a perceptive thought this is. Shakespeare takes something we half think - "I never thought my life would turn out like this" - and extends it.

Would any of us, if we were told the whole story of our life, all at once, at the age of 15 really be able to take the shock, carry on and live it, unless perhaps if we had already read Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and were very strict Calvinists?

Just how many of us would "drop the book of fate, sit down and die" in dread at the crosses and dangers of our life which we have indeed endured, and overcome?

The answer is worth thinking about. On the whole, I think I might have dropped my own "book", on being told that I would be ill and disabled for years. But if the whole story was cut off at this point, today, with current feelings of health, a pleasant peaceful house, garden and a full stomach, I think I could endure the worst parts. But who knows the last chapter? No one but God. He alone knows the end from the beginning.

As Christians, our "last chapter" is just the start. Perhaps we should thank God every day that we are only called to live one day at a time- Therefore we are only given strength for that small task ahead. Perhaps we should also be very glad that the "book of fate" is closed to all of us.

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