This is the title of a blog by Jonathan Rogers. German philosopher Martin Heidegger once wrote of “Geworfenheit” or thrownness. “You’re thrown into the world, into a particular set of circumstances not of your choosing, with a few tools thrown into your toolbox (also not of your choosing), and you start figuring out how to make a life – hopefully with the help of some wise guides, though, again, many of those guides won’t be people you identified or sought out exactly. Many of them were thrown your way too.”

Rogers then quotes James K. A. Smith: “Thrownness is not a negative thing.” We can regret our thrownness, resent it, or feel shame about it.  Or we can take it as a gift and a guide to our calling: “We are bundles of potentiality, but the possibilities are not infinite. We are thrown into a time and place, thrown into a story that is our history, and these form the horizons of possibility for us… That is not a limitation as much as a focusing, a gifted specificity.  This corner of earth I’ve been given to till. These neighbors I am called to love. These talents I’m exhorted to fan into flame. This neighborhood in which to birth a future.”

At my age, I really identify with the word thrownness.  I have been reading I and II Timothy.  I am impressed by how Paul the Apostle encourages young Timothy in his thrownness – that is, his unique call to carry on the ministry. “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof – Public Sinner Number One – of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy” (I Tim. 1:15 – Message).  Never forget the mercy of God on your journey. None of us deserve mercy, but God is merciful and gracious. 

Paul expresses how God’s grace has carried him: “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause!  Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming” (II Tim 4:6-8 – Message).  Personally, I have lived through a lot of thrownness in my life.  I am so grateful to have gotten through this far and plan to finish strong. 

Paul reminds Timothy that God confirmed his calling through all his thrownness:  “And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed – keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (II Tim.1:7 – Message).  He also encourages Timothy to remember how God has gifted him.  “And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed – keep that dusted off and in use” (I Tim. 4:14 – Message).

Finally, Paul encourages Timothy to “hang in” there, fight, and not give up:  “Run hard and fast in the faith.  Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses” (I Tim. 6:12 – Message).  Men, my testimony in the fourth quarter of my life is this: God can take every part of our life and make something out of it all.  Let go – and let God use your thrownness.