CHAOS. This is the word that best describes the last couple of weeks on both the world scene and in my own personal life. Car trouble, sewer line problems that resulted in water in our basement, challenges at work, earthquake and tsunami, concerns about family living near Crescent City, CA in the path of the tsunami and the hospitalization of a family member—these are just a few of the challenges that have tried my patience and strength recently.
The day of the earthquake in Japan I was driving to work, listening to my favorite Christian radio station. Already I was feeling exhausted by my concerns and worries when the DJ said, “Whatever the tsunamis you're dealing with in your life right now, remember that God is in control.”
“Really?” I asked out loud. “Is that true, God? You’re in control? What about free will? What about random bad luck or chaos? I know Christians say you’re in control all the time, but what does that really mean?! Do I even believe it?”
Later that daywe went to see a movie, a sci-fi flick called “The Enforcement Bureau.” The premise of the movie is that we only live with the “appearance” of free will. The truth (as portrayed in the movie) is that our lives and destinies are controlled by men in business suits and hats whose job it is to enforce the “life plan” of each individual as it is set forth by “The Chairman.” It was a fanciful and intriguing concept for a science fiction movie, but not at all reflects what I believe to be reality.
After further reflection I was able to set forth these things I do believe:
v God is NOT the author of chaos. God speaks and brings order out of chaos. God speaks and darkness becomes light! (Genesis, chapter 1)
v Humans do have free will! Scripture encourages us to make our own choices. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15); I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19) and Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, had a choice to make. He struggled mightily with that choice, sweating drops of blood as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. His choice, “not my will, but Thine” has become our salvation. The point is, he apparently had a choice. Why else would his struggle have been this great? I find the reality of free will and the idea that God is “in control” are incongruent IF by this we mean that God ordains or causes every circumstance of our lives, including illness, earthquakes and the deaths of our loved ones.
v Some things happen because of the choices I have made. Some things happen because the choices of others impact my life –often in stressful or painful ways.
v Some things just happen, perhaps as part of the natural order (the shifting of tectonic plates comes to mind) and because we live in a fallen world. This is not the world or existence God intended for us at creation when God pronounced, “It is good.”
v Sometimes there is divine intervention that changes our circumstances and set our lives in order again. Sometimes. That’s why we call these things “miracles.”
v Always there is grace. Because this is true I can give thanks and sing praise in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6), for God is always with me. He is always faithful. His grace strengthens me and in His grace the greatest losses I face can be transformed to victories of new growth, new peace, new light and life.
Like the chaos, darkness and sorrow of Good Friday transformed to resurrection light and joy of Easter morning.
Grace and peace be with you this day,