A time or two I've been driving and have spotted a bumper sticker stating, "God is my Co-pilot." I guess I really never paid much serious attention to the sentiment … until a car passed me on another occasion emblazoned with the idea, "If God Is Your Co-pilot, You Should Switch Seats." This kind of traffic banter makes us smile from time to time; but it also gets us thinking.
Many of us would like to think that God has His hand on the wheel of our lives, exercising total control. But we're not sure who to blame when things go terribly wrong. Was it my fault? Did I take the wheel when I shouldn't have? Does God not care about me anymore? Make a stupid choice, and you have only yourself to blame. But what about things that are out of your control? The insurance companies are in agreement with each other regarding the calamities of the natural world. Something bad happens and they all join the chorus: "It was an act of God," as if God happened to be pacing the floor in some celestial laboratory experimenting with the laws of physics, and, "Oops, My bad. I'll send a crew to help you get that cleaned up."
• A string of tornadoes hurtles across the southern states of the USA, scattering homes and lives across the countryside. "God is in control."
• A hurricane blows in and takes out half of Louisiana. "God is in control."
• An earthquake buries a huge portion of the Chinese population. "God is in control."
• Airplanes are purposely flown into our skyscrapers. "God is in control."
• Yet another child (an infant) is diagnosed with Leukemia, and given only months to live. "God is in control."
• One more crazed lunatic with a gun goes on a rampage, leaving a pool of blood in his (or her) wake (thinking of the 16-year-old Los Angeles girl who didn't like Mondays). "God is in control."
The catalog of pain goes on, and I'm sure, like me, you've assembled your own "Wish List" of things you'd like to see the back of.
I have friends and loved ones who had to bury their family members long before time, and I have heard them say those very words, "God is in control." The belief they have settled upon is that God laid their loved ones to rest, possibly to save them from something awful down the road, something that may have cost them their soul. Well, that may indeed be the case; but I have a sense that if the will of God were to be truly exercised, the sick would not have died — but lived — all of their natural days, and the strength be given to resist the temptation that would cause them to toss in their soul as a losing wager.
When Jesus was here on the planet I expect things could have turned out very differently beside the tomb of Lazarus. The announcement might have gone something like: "It's good that Lazarus should die like this; he was a good man and will surely come up in the resurrection of the righteous." But that's not what Jesus said, is it? His words were totally contrary to what the family of Lazarus was expecting. In accordance with their belief, what they said to Jesus was, "If you had been here, this wouldn't have happened." Sounds a little bit like the kind of blame we hear being cast around today. "Where was God?" shouts the accusation of the newspapers.
There is a possibility that God has taken a giant leap back from what some might call "interfering" in the lives of us earthlings. Just like when parents hear the words from their children, "I can do it; I don't need your help." There comes a moment in the life of the child when a parent must have permission before they make an attempt at fixing something which has gone horribly wrong. A dutiful parent watches the match-up … but stays respectfully on the sideline … until some serious Band-Aid application is needed.
Even Old Man Job witnessed events that received no assistance from God. Each disaster played out till it could go no further; and only then, when the lie of the devil had been laid to rest, did God restore to Job what he had lost — and more. Perhaps this Old Testament mini-movie is illustrating to us that God leaves certain things alone … until he can restore ALL things. Perhaps (just thinking it through) God cannot fix things for ALL of us, so He fixes things for NONE of us. Deep down I don't believe that, but I have to be honest enough to consider the possibility. That concept might help us understand why we don't see the general moving of the Spirit of God on "Main Street." What I mean is that I'd like to see the "Holy Healers" come out of the church doors and get into the hospital wards. If Jesus were here today, I expect we would find find Him wandering the unhallowed halls of our medical institutions — on a very regular basis.
I have a friend (let's call him Brian) who was set up and locked up for something he says he didn't do. With no foreseeable release date in sight he is left to mull over the question of "What's all this about? Why am I here? God, why have You allowed this to happen?" These are not unreasonable questions to ask, are they? I feel sure that the Hebrew Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob/Israel, had many an opportunity to ponder a similar fate. Joseph was despised by all his brothers but one; he was sold as a slave to pagan Egypt; he was falsely accused by his owner's wife; he spent the next however long locked up as a common criminal. But there was something about Joseph that changed the hearts of those who were around him; people knew instinctively that "God was with Joseph." Though they didn't fully understand what they were witnessing in this Godly man, there came a day when they sought Joseph's much-respected counsel, and the entire nation of Egypt was saved by God THROUGH JOSEPH from a looming famine. In a short screenplay, Joseph went from the pit in the wilderness to a palace in the kingdom of the ancient world's superpower. Because of the presence of God in his life, Joseph was as much a prince in the pit as he was on the throne. Joseph's own testimony? "God sent me here to save lives." Hang in there, Brian. God hasn't forgotten your address.
Perhaps our own choices prevent God from working in our lives. There is nothing that can separate us from the LOVE of God; but perhaps our submission to evil tendencies separates us from the POWER of God — the power of God that works in and through us. Perhaps practiced evil works as a force field around us, requiring God to keep a safe distance from us — safe for us, I mean.
If God is in control of anything right now, surely He is in control of just how far the devil may go in his affliction of the human family. The devil, because of our choices, may have a large amount of control in our lives down here, but truly, God has control of our eternity. And we should probably never forget that reality.
And that's just my take on it ….