Sunday, July 10, 2011
PERHAPS THERE WAS A LINGERING THOUGHT
Creation, Jamestown, NC
At some point in the life of all human beings there does seem to be at least some time to pause in a rare, still, absolutely quiet moment where we ask either ourselves or perhaps an unseen spiritual being the age old question of Why. Why do I exist? Why do we suffer and die? Why do other human beings do such terrible things to themselves, others and our world? Why does God allow all of this to happen?
Well, I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and study. And perhaps that is one outcome that is expected. Showing an interest in these basic questions of our existence indicates an interest in doing something about it. Attempting to think like God might be considered waaaay too presumptuous. On the other hand, the biblical writings we’ve been given reveals a lot about our God. And we are told there that we were created in His image. So perhaps we’ve been imbued with a bit of insight if we search it out.
I’ve come to believe that we were given the free will to choose our path in every step of the way on our life’s journey. I think it has a lot to do with why we were created. The creator of this universe, both seen and unseen had already created eternal spiritual beings like the Seraphim that spend 24/7 in the spiritual realm worshiping God. Perhaps there was a lingering thought that it would be better if those in relationship actually had a choice in the matter. Haven’t you found that a relationship is much more deep and loving when it is heartfelt and freely given when other choices are available? That’s how free will works. But for free will to be genuine, both good and bad choices must be on the table. And a collaborative relationship is much richer than one in which only one member makes all the decisions.
Why do we have to experience the pain and suffering of death—many times for both the dying and those loved ones left behind? Have you ever had to patiently wait for something you wanted? Isn’t it true that if something is easily handed to you, it has a lesser meaning for you than something you truly sacrificed and worked hard to acquire? Perhaps there was a lingering thought that eternal life could be more appreciated if there were a limited, more difficult life preceding it. But it was revealed that this eternal life was available if we tried our best to live a temporary good life in preparation for it. It’s been said that the trials of this brief life pale in comparison to the eternal prize that awaits us in the next. We just can find that a difficult concept when we’re immersed in that trial at the time, but it does provide hope.
Why does a good and loving God allow and perhaps direct bad things to happen to us? Well, for openers, a vast majority of the bad things that happen to people is perpetrated on them by other people not God. There are consequences to bad decisions, although they are not always obvious and may only be realized in the next life. The rains in this life fall on both the good and the bad fields and sometimes we are left to question if there is justice. I don’t believe God kills people with cars or earthquakes. But He did create the basic laws that sustain this universe that can also result in people dying when these forces are set in motion and they are in harm’s way. Is everything that happens in our life predestined by God including all the bad things? I’ve come to believe that God may in fact have a plan for each of our lives, but we were given the free will not to follow His chosen path. Basically, I believe He wants us to live a good and just life and trust in Him as a loving father. That life can take an infinite variety of paths of our choosing and how we respond to events. And I believe that God is in control of His creation for the big picture of the overall direction history is moving and for all the eternal truths and laws He set in motion when He created our universe. Perhaps there was a lingering thought that it would be a grand experiment to create a universe where it would be extremely interesting to set the environment in place and let it play itself out to a conclusion of primarily its own making, with minimal interference and general guidelines. The era of the Great Flood that destroyed all human life except one faithful family indicates that humans still may not get it right. But day in and day out these guidelines direct the winds and our hearts in whatever direction they are steered.
God has told us that He will be with us at all times and never leave us—but we can exercise our free will and turn our back on Him. He may interfere at His option if invited or if He perceives an extreme need known only to Him. After all, it’s His creation. Evil can be defined as the absence of goodness, like darkness can be defined as the absence of light. And God will always work with us to bring some goodness out of all suffering and evil to help mediate the harsh reality of this mortal life. Perhaps I should close with one final lingering thought that given the alternative of never having my soul created and the opportunity to experience this adventurous life, I’ll accept the trials of this life, trusting in the knowledge that my creator is with me every step of the way on the path to a restored life in the spiritual world beyond this broken mortal one.