Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day Six of Lent, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This skydiver becoming entangled with a plane taking off has been around the news lately. Due to Tim Telford's camera, we are able to see some of the shots of the accident as it occurred.

As I heard about the collision, I gave a silent prayer thanking God that there were no fatalities and only minor injuries.

Then I started wondering who was at fault.  Was it air traffic control at the airport?

Was it the skydiver, drifting off course from his landing site?

Was it the pilot who may have taxied to the wrong runway for takeoff?

Or was it God's fault?

Okay, the last question is a little ridiculous.  Why would someone blame God for human error or even what could have simply been a colossal mistake?

Yet, this is not out of the question for those who believe that God is in control of the universe down to the minutest details.  Those who claim Calvin as their theological grounding are more likely to be deterministic in their outlook on life.  Things, even like this plane crash, happen for a reason.

As a Wesleyan, I am in a different camp of thought.  We believe that humanity has free will.  If I decide to fly into a sky diver whether by mistake or by willful maliciousness, I'm not doing so as part of the larger divine plan but maybe in the latter case as counter to God's plan.

The Tower of Siloam
by James Tissot ca. 1886
Jesus tells about people that were killed by Pontius Pilate and states that they weren't any worse offenders than the rest of us.  In other words, God wasn't using Pilate's violence to exact justice on those deserving it.  Jesus also indicates the same thing for those killed in an accident when the Tower of Siloam fell on 18 people.

He uses this for an example that life can be cut short so we should repent of our sins while we can.  But he doesn't use it to show that all events are part of a divine plan for retribution or even justice.  It seems that God is more subtle than that.

Now the great thing about God (as a believer in free will) is that God can use even our sins and silly mistakes to bring about something good.

Maybe the sky diver becomes a more thoughtful person due to his brush with death.  Maybe the pilot is more attentive to the schedule and avoids a more horrific crash in the future.

As we engage in the Lenten season, this is often a season of repentance.  Rather than simply repent of your sins and move on as if all is well, think about some thing that you regret doing and pray about how God might use even this in order to bring about something good.  What would that be?

The creativity of God knows no bounds.

Of this I'm free to believe!

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