By REV. KAREN FITZ LA BARGE,
North Kent Presbyterian Church
On Thursday, October 5th, as I was driving down 10 Mile Road, I came across a car accident that had just happened. A black truck had rear ended a white car. As the people got out of their vehicles, their screams of pain and despair echoed through the neighborhood, and the good folks of Rockford ran over to help. Some neighbors sat with the victims and comforted them. Others loaned their cell phones. One woman came to the accident with bottles of water. I and some other neighbors helped by holding the beautiful baby Harmony as the police and firemen checked out the victims, asked questions and tried to document what happened.
What had just happened? Had God caused a car accident? If God is in control, why do bad things like car accidents and hurricanes and fires occur? What about the shooter in Las Vegas? Why didn’t God stop that horrific tragedy from occurring?
To my way of thinking, while God is omnipotent and completely in charge, God limits God self in order to make a way for us humans to have an actual and real relationship with God. Just like we don’t give a firm handshake to an infant, but stick out our finger for them to grasp; God meets us where we are, and out of love limits God’s own self so that we can have the freedom to reach back out to God. God inside and outside of the universe shows us God’s shadow so that we are not crushed by the real and complete presence of God.
But unfortunately, with our freedom, humans are often just like naughty children, and we make messes out of our beautiful planet as we let carcinogens into the water and the food chain. We are selfish and careless of others and forget to slow down and stop in busy traffic. We exist on a living planet with fierce weather and tectonic plates, but we act like we have never seen these phenomenon before and pretend that God must have sent them over like hit men.
My friends, the Spirit of God lives inside of us, and directs us to live as disciples of love. When bad things happen, it is our opportunity to respond like Christ, in love. The possibility of evil allows self sacrificial love (agape) to exist. The constant human free choice to do actual evil or actual good allows our relationships with God and others to be real, and our actions to actually matter. While we all long for a world without any evil in it, where God’s compassion can be fully realized, for that we will have to wait until we reach the dimension of heaven.
God didn’t cause the car accident on 10 Mile Road last Thursday. But God was present when the neighbors reached out in love to care for each other.