Weekend before last, I went out to plant a pumpkin patch in my backyard. Oddly enough it taught me more about the nature of God than it did on gardening. Why? Because my 1 and 4 year old came out to help me.
Actually, I asked them to come help me. I love my kids and I want them to have fun and learn. What better way to learn and have fun than by planting pumpkin seeds? However, I also knew that my odds of having a successful pumpkin patch are greatly diminished by allowing the kids to help. I didn't know the details, but I knew that before I was done each of the kids would both help plant and help destroy in their own special way. Naturally, I could have stopped them. For one, I could have made them stay inside with their mother. Two, I could have forced them to only watch. Three, I could have let them only help in very small ways. I chose option four, give them the seeds and help them as much as they would allow. I want my kids to be independent. I don't want them to sit on the sidelines and watch. I want them to feel confident in their abilities and also know that it is fine to make a mistake. The only way to gain that, in my opinion, is to let them be independant and praise them for thier efforts.
I think, in many ways, God is like this. He's constantly trying to plant his garden; we, as his children, create havoc. He knows that we'll create havoc; and his greater intelligence will allow him to know details that we could never guess. However, he lets us do it so that we'll be independent and sure of ourselves. Why does God let bad things happen? For the same reason that some of my pumpkins can't be saved; because that is what must happen. I'm not sure one can put it in words; it's a philosophy, a feeling, and an experience.
Secondly, I think my knowledge of the kids going to destroy the garden is similar to God's knowledge of upcoming events. Even with my limited knowledge, I knew that the kids would dig up seeds. I can also predict the future: my daughter will be happy on her birthday, my son will get into trouble on his. My brother-in-law will yell at his daughter or son at my daughter's party for something that (s)he is doing wrong. I'm fairly confident that all of these will come to pass, and I have limited intelligence. God, with his far greater intelligence, can predict a much greater level of detail. However, I don't believe our paths are "pre-determined". I don't think God knows everything we are going to do. He may have been honestly surprised when Cain killed Able. I didn't know how my son would destroy the garden, and honestly he could have surprised me and not dug up the seeds with his toy shovel. We could have even surprised God by not engulfing ourselves in sin such that he had to destroy humanity with the flood. But we didn't. He is wise and greater than us in everyway, but I think we've tried to deify him above even what he ever wanted.
I think sometimes we view God as a floating entity that knows all, is everywhere, and can do anything. His only emotion is love and he shares that with everyone, both sinners and saints. I feel this view is fundamentally flawed. We are made in God's image. I think God is more like the Greek gods than our sanitized version. We know from the Bible that God feels jealousy and anger. God takes revenge. God is not merciful, God is just. Those of you who expect God to be a loving, happy-go-nothing entity need to wake up and smell the Frankensense. Our view of God is twisted by our 21st Century "morals" and the teachings of Jesus who was the Son of God (not God himself).
Well, this post is getting long and I want to wrap it up before I lose all the readers. I'll post more about this in future blogs. However, as you do your day to day activities, think how it reflects what God would do with a much larger problem. I think you'll find that you are made in his image more than you realize.
A Lost Voice
6 hours ago