Friday, April 27, 2007

...I’m glad I’m not God...

In the book "A Tale of Three Kings" there is a passage that is one of the most beautiful and difficult quotes I have ever read.

Gabriel is giving out destinies to men that will one day become kings. To one, he gives the gift of power. He explains that the gift of power will not change the inner person but rather: "Outer power will always unveil the inner resources or lack thereof."

The second king receives an "inheritance". The angels explains: "A gift is worn on the outer person; and inheritance is planted deep inside - like a seed. Yet, even though it is such a small planting, this planting grows and, in time, fills all the inner person."

As the king steps up to receive his inheritance the angel goes on... "I must tell you that what has been given to you is a glorious thing - the only element in the universe that can change the human heart. Yet even this element of God cannot accomplish its task nor grow and fill your entire being unless it is compounded well. It must be mixed lavishly with pain, sorrow and crushing."

And, that is why I would never want to be God.

I watched my friends, an entire family, crushed under the grief of losing a brother, and a son. The sorrow etched upon their faces, in the recesses of their eyes was something I could never willingly place upon another human. It doesn’t seem right that a 25 year old young man has been taken from this earth. The gaping hole it will leave in the hearts of 12 brothers and sisters, in a mom and a dad, can never be filled. The reality of the loss will be part of them always and each will grieve in their own way.

While I know that the crushing and bruising of brokeness is what creates the beauty found in God’s children. That it is the the source of the perspective and the gentle grace seen in the faces of the oldest of saints It still seems so cruel to put a heart through that wounding.

And...if I was God...

As I witnessed the tears shed while this family looked at their soldier, lying in a coffin, I would have resurrected his body, shaken off their sadness and set their feet to dancing. I would orchestrated events so that they seemed "right" in my own heart and mind. Yet, in doing that, I would have stolen the beauty that will come only through this sorrow.

Soldiers who sat in church with the family, hearts softened at the loss, might never have heard the gospel. The family, in their grief, might not have leaned their ears so close to their father, seeing him as the spiritual head and protector of their family. Eternity, and the short breath that is this life, might may not have been so real. Hundreds of people would not have been praying for these children, these parents - this family. And so much more, that I will never see, would have been lost to eternity.

I heard a saying once, "Don’t sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate". They are noble words, but, held up to the light of reality, it is so much easier as humans to live in the immediate. To take action with our feelings instead of trusting that there is so much more, of eternal value at stake.

While I would have done things differently in this boy’s life and would have spared the family this week’s agonies, God knows best. And while we only see a dim reflection of the big picture, I know His ways are perfect and what he does is eternal and excellent.

And for this family, for the days ahead, He is enough.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:3-7

I will bring (them)...through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God’”
Zechariah 13:9

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:2-4

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 1but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1st Corinthians 13:8-13

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