Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Soul Surfer: a random act of God

During a storm a few months ago, the alarm in our church went off, requiring one of our men to get out of bed and meet a deputy to verify no break-in had occurred. It hadn’t. The next day we discovered the code on our alarm indicated two office windows had been broken. They hadn’t. What had happened was a tree a hundred yards behind the building had been struck by lightening. The thunder that accompanied that strike rattled everything around, including those windows. The force was so great the windows thought they had been broken.
I’ve been rattled like that. Several years ago, I was caught in a thunderstorm while playing golf. A lightening strike hit so close you could taste the electricity in the air. Needless to say we made it back to the clubhouse in record time.
Lightening is a real danger with real consequences. Annually over 500 people in the United States are hit by lightening. Ten percent of them don’t survive.
Getting struck by lightening is the best example of the old expression: being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lightening isn’t looking for you. It’s not targeting you. It’s simply a natural response to electrodes colliding. Where it goes and what it hits is totally random.
A lot of what happens in life is random. Car accidents, falls, hitting your thumb with a hammer, catching a virus, cancer—things happen with no directed purpose. We’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And then there are other things.
I watched Soul Surfer again last night. The story of Bethany Hamilton, a promising, teenage, professional surfer who had her arm bitten off by a shark. It is an amazing story of courage and faith. Sean McNamara did an incredible job bringing the story to film.
In the backstory she and her mom talk about them praying for a couple of weeks prior to that moment about how God might want to use her to His glory. And though a shark bite seems cruel and heartless, it was an event that God used to send her story and His love around the world. She said she would not go back and undo what happened because of how what happened to her has helped change lives.
I believe heavily in the sovereignty of God. With all knowledge, power and presence, He is without limitation. He has the right to use whatever means He chooses to accomplish what’s best in our lives.
I have no problem believing God answered Bethany’s prayer of willingness to be used, and even though it seems an extreme answer, it obviously fits the criteria through which God can be glorified.
I do not place every event in that same category. There is still random stuff going on. But even in the random stuff God is there to implement a plan as soon as the random stuff's dust settles. Intentional or random both come under God having plans for us. (Jer. 29)
There are those occasions through which God chooses the crisis to work His plans. On other occasions those crises are simply random moments in time. But in those random moments, though God is not causing what happens to happen, when it happens, He has a plan through which we might see His goodness working in our lives. For me that works. It forces me to look forward to the therefore, not backwards to regret.
To see it as a therefore makes me acknowledge something happened and believe that it came with a plan attached.
I have no problem believing Bethany’s story. In my faith, God remained faithful to her while having a shark bite off her arm. But if not, and it was random, God was still there, working out His plans for her that brought about His good in her life.

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