Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life On The Broken Planet

I remember April 22, 1967. I did not know it at the time but it was precisely 18 years to the day until my last child would be born. Nobody can look into the future and see something like that. I remember April 22, 1967 because on that day I was looking back about 18 hours. I was 11 years old and I was in a car with my pastor and other kids from the youth group I had just grown into. We were driving to downtown Chicago for a "Jesus Rally." I remember the rally, but again, that's not what is so memorable. On that beautiful Saturday morning we drove through the suburb of Oak Lawn, Illinois. The previous day it had been devastated by a monster tornado. These pictures <----- from Oak Lawn remind me of what we have been looking at all week in the unfortunate town of Joplin, Missouri. My juvenile brain went into overload as we drove through block after block after block of homes that looked as though they had been smashed by God's angry fist. I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around it. And I had a hard time understanding why the God I was on the way to worship at Chicago's Civic Center would allow that to happen. I still don't know the answer to that one.

A hospital full of sick and injured people got blown apart on Sunday night in Joplin. The current death toll stands around 124 in that city. And it is frightening to realize that roughly 1,500 people are still unaccounted for. No doubt most of them are with friends someplace and safe. But other people do not know that and so they found their way onto the list. There is also little doubt that many of the 1,500 are not at all safe. They really are missing. How can something blow the bark off of trees? How can a storm literally blow the pavement off of roads leaving only an ugly scar on the ground? How can a child be sucked out through the sunroof of his parents car? How can debris from the havoc the tornado creates soar 18,000 feet into the air? That is 3.4 miles UP. How can medical x-rays from the aforementioned hospital land in another city 70 miles away? I mean, what kind of force can do that?

I am afraid that I have more questions than I have answers. The older I get the more I realize that what I once accepted as acceptable reasons just doesn't really measure up. There are no answers available that make me go, "Oh. Okay. I get it now."

And so here is where I land. The planet we live on is broken. We broke it. It all started with an act that seemed tiny. The eating of fruit from a tree that God forbid a man and a woman to eat from. You can read about it in the book of Genesis. Chapter 3. So the guy and the girl break God's only rule. They decide to eat out one evening and make the unwise choice of restaurants. And thus we have the first "sin." It's just fruit, right? Hmmm. Do you know what the second recorded sin is? Murder. One young man killed his brother because of jealousy. From fruit to fight. From meal to murder. And the spiral continues on this very day. And the mayhem does not just effect people. It effects all of creation. It has resulted in earthquakes, tsunami's, hurricanes ... and tornadoes.

God help us.

But lest you think that is the end of the story, consider this. Do not for a minute think that we have been deserted and left alone on this spinning ball in space. God is still in charge. He paid the ultimate price to defeat the sin that so easily entangles us. He surrendered His Own Son to the powers of evil in order to buy us back. And because of that ... for those that believe ... everything ends WELL.

But for now we still live on the broken planet.

I pray though that you will find encouragement in these facts. God directs every lightening bolt. God counts every rain drop. God sees the impact of every hail stone. And not one single tornado will ever be spun out of a cloud without either God causing it, or at the very least, giving it permission. And now add this into the equation. He knows where you are. Every second of every day. People die under tragic circumstances. And yes, Christ followers sometimes get killed by tornadoes. We are not immune to the effects of the broken planet. Perhaps ... I'm not certain but just perhaps ... every time a lost person dies from tragic events God allows a Christ follower to die from tragic events also. Why? So the world will see the difference.

I sleep well regardless of the weather. Oh sure, I take precautions. I have a couple of flashlights. I have a sturdy and fairly safe basement. I have a battery operated weather radio. That is only smart. But the reason why I sleep well is because my Father watches over me. And someday He will call me home. If it's because I'm in a truly bad location when a tornado comes by ... well ... alright. I can think of better ways to go. But I'm His. I settled that long ago. And my earthly father taught me when I was a child that he would watch out for me and provide for me. My Father in heaven has done the same thing. So I think I"ll go to bed now. He's got His eye on me. It's on you too. And that gives me more rest than the best sleeping aid on the market.

Nighty night.


Anonymous said...

It would be difficult to tell parents of a child that "God caused it" or gave it permission to happen when they lose their baby. Would you relay that message at a funeral? I'm sure they would get ANGRY w/ God; I know I would. If they are just needing a man of God to direct their funeral, do you think they are better off thinking it was an act of nature? By the way, enjoy your blogs!