First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

When life blows up, look for God.

June 24, 2016

The law of averages suggests that sooner or later we'll experience a meltdown in our life.  Something will go wrong. Life will go sideways. The world we have created will blow up. It sounds trite to say in those times we should look for God. In fact, I have cared for people who did the opposite. In times of trial and duress, many have blamed God and turned away. The mistake often made is to deny that sin and evil exist in our world. Sin and evil bring pain and suffering. God's choice to give all people free will demonstrates divine love but also gives rise to bad things happening. We don't always choose to do the right things at the right times. Factor in the choices of those around us and one can see how life can blow up quickly.

    55 years doesn't seem like a lot of time to evaluate God's nearness, but I have experienced the calming presence of the Almighty more so during difficult times than easy breezy days. One could argue that my experiences are anecdotal and I would agree. I have no statistical evidence to back my claims; I do have one account after another where my life didn't go as planned and a respite came to me just when I needed it. Was it God? Was it luck? Was it coincidence? Wait, I need to go gargle. Just saying "coincidence" gives me a bad taste in my mouth. Ain't no such animal in my view of how the world works under the hand of God.

    Take for instance our recent mission trip. We started the week and it was suggested that we all look for our God moments. You know, those times when something happens and it is so deeply moving that only God could provide it. We shared a few throughout the week. It was sometimes a small thing; other times it was a "wow" moment.

    My "wow" moment actually came on the 250 mile drive home. It is a moment that seems to freeze in time when the tire on the trailer in front of you blows out, rips the fender off the trailer and sends rubber and metal flying haphazardly all over (scarier when you're doing 65-70 miles an hour).

Of all the places for a tire to blow out, it could have failed anywhere. It didn't. It failed right as the exit ramp came into sight. We glided (okay, more like hobbled) off a busy route 15, away from speeding traffic (and 18 wheelers).

 

On the surface, it would be easy to fume about a flat tire on a busy highway. WHY NOW? WHY? WHY?

I quickly noticed we could get off the highway onto a quiet off ramp. I noticed the flying debris had not hit any vehicles or caused any bodily damage. I noticed we had a spare with air in it.  I noticed we had tools to get the tire changed. When I went back the road to recover the fender, I noticed no vehicles had hit the fender or smashed it flat. Coincidence? That is a lot of stuff "just" happening by chance!

    My worldview is built upon God's design and presence. It's built on an ongoing meta-narrative of God's provision and care for a world that suffers and is filled with people making choices that either fit God's design and will or not.  It is built upon my own experiences with God's oversight. I love the imagery in this 'song of ascents' from Psalm 121.

 

        "I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker

        of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he

        who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your

        shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep

        you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both

       now and forevermore." (Psalm 121, NIV)

Today, savor God's nearness when life blows up. Look for sightings of grace in the midst of your carnage. It is God....

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