Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Car wreaks on my mind

These are thoughts from a few months ago when we went down to the coast (or is it up?) to visit some friends and celebrate a wedding.  This is the drive back on a very cold and snowy night.

We didn't see any cars in any ditches for over 1000 km.  Not until we were about 50 km from home did we slow down in a long lineup to inch our way passed a flipped car, a smashed up truck and a couple more cars laying skewed across the right lane.  The ice was unruly.  

We turned onto the next highway and came across a truck with loose straps sitting in the right lane.  One of the giant cement pieces had broken free from the trailer and rolled off the back into the ditch.  The wind was so strong that I was fighting to stay on the road.  

Cars in the ditch.  Trucks overturned.  People stranded.  Yet, we made it home without incident.

I really took some time to think about what happened, of more accurately, what didn't happen to us that night.  

Of course, I am glad that we did not get into an accident.  Thankful?  That's a tough word to use.  Seems kind of demented to be thankful that my family, and not others, avoided suffering on the roads that night.

The common practise of Christians is that we pray for safety.  We pray that God will protect us on the roads, in the schools, in the mess of the world.  I remember reading about a man who rejoiced when he found out that a small church group in Indonesia had a premonition to go to higher ground just before the Tsunami waves rolled in.  The group lived.  Thousands died, but the group lived.  Praise God?

We go about this practise as if it's exactly how God works.  Ask him to keep you safe and he will.  Yet, I know of people (even Christians) who have died in car accidents.  Though that small Church group survived the storm in Asia, there were thousand more Christians lost to the sea.

These car wreaks I drove by.  There were families in those cars.  I don't know if anyone died.  I hope not.  I pray that no one did.

I don't know why our car made it through that mess.  We stopped at A&W in Edson.  Did that have something to do with escaping the accident?  God was watching out for us?  Divine burger intervention?

If that's true.  If God was watching out for us then we're still missing pieces to this puzzle.  Why?  Because that must mean that God was not watching out for those who got in the accident.  It means that God did not watch out for those that die in the disasters that happen all over the world.

The lesson here, it seems, is that God is not in control.  We like to say that he's in control, but "control" doesn't quite seem like the right word anymore.

If this is control, where some people die and some people don't...

If its control when it all seems so random, then what kind of rules is this Controller playing by?

It's hard to justify the use of the word "control" in a situation like this that seems so out of control.  There are storms, car accidents, cancers, murderers, and whatever else people die from.  We need to stop calling all of this "God is in control".

If it's so, that he is in control, then lets agree that God is in control and his control is random, heartbreaking, confusing, and unexplainable.  Or, aka, out of control.

But that's not all I have to say.

I'm not hopeless.

I just think we need to look at this God in a different way. 

God is beyond control.  We shouldn't be questioning whether he is in or out of control.  We might do better to say that he is beyond our understanding as to what sort of role he plays in all of this stuff happening or not happening to certain people at certain times.

Saying God is in control is an easy way for us to gloss over what kind of being that is really at work here.  It's kind of a surface answer that we give when something horrible happens but we don't want to think about it too much.

I would say that God is beyond all control.  He is further from control than you or I may be.

Oh, he's not out of control either.  Don't get me wrong.

He's just beyond it.

Why am I saying this?  Who cares what we call it?  Well, its just that I was thinking about all of these things are we drove the rest of the way home.  We had made it 1100 km back over the mountains.  We were safe.

If I believe that God took care of us then I would have to agree that God did not take care of others.  It can become a selfish little habit for us to be happy to be safe while forgetting that others are suffering.

So I tried to think of it all in a different way.

If anything, God was not preoccupied with our safety.  He was focused on caring for the ones that were suffering that night.  He was watching out for them in their time of need.  I have to believe that, in those moments where "God is in control" is proclaimed, it is in many ways true, but for very different reasons than we tend to believe.

Yet, I tend to side with God not being in control, but being beyond it.

To wrap this up let me say this.  If I rejoice when good things happen to me, it is an indirect stab at my brothers and sisters who are suffering.  It is thinking that, for reasons beyond my understanding, God chooses to favour me over others.

Some think this view is validated because they think that God loves Christians more than other people.  This is evil.  Evil is when we put ourselves above others.  Much worse is when we think God does the same thing.

Not much of a conclusion.  I think I'm still chewing on this.

I guess the short version is that people suffer in agony and I am no longer satisfied with the surfacey answer that God makes that kind of stuff happen.