It doesn't take a miracle, or a natural disaster, to live in the world that your after, a Change is going to happen to you.-- "Miracle" by Michael Tolcher
Earlier in the week Ray Nagin, mayor of New Orleans, said God sent Hurricane Katrina to, among other things, punish America for it's evil deeds.
Yesterday I overheard two girls giddy over God answering their prayers: They prayed about changing the time and place of their small group. Then Voila'! One of their schedules changed, making it possible. God confirmed their prayers and made a way.
One guy has suggested, and two have openly asserted, that God killed my best friend.
You name a natural disaster or tragedy from the past few years and Pat Robertson has placed his finger on the direct source-- God, and reason-- usually that the victims were not more like Pat Robertson.
Ask each one why they do what they do and why they believe what they believe and each one will give a variation of "Because I know God." It may take the form of "Because I believe Scripture, which says..." Or, "Because God told me..." But each have their reality. They know what they know and if you would only have the same information they had, or the guts to accept it, then you would know what they know as well.
I remember very well a conversation I had with Jason several years ago when we were still in Marshall. (Actually, it wasn't a conversation. I was at his feet, soaking in the wisdom.) He talked about the Apostle Paul, formerly known as the Persecutor Saul. As I reflect on it I think what was said may have been one of the seeds planted that grew into this journey I've been on for the past five years.
Paul's conversion experience was not, as we often think, a "Turning to God" experience. It wasn't that he didn't know God when he was on the horse and suddenly knew God when he fell off. No, Saul LOVED God! Saul LIVED for God. If you were to ask Saul why he killed Christians, his answer would have been "I do it for God. I'm protecting the faith."
There would be no reasoning with Saul. It took an act of God for him to understand what we now understand-- That those he persecuted were actually God's children.
And this is why it has become easy for me to forgive those who have just been plain mean. Not because I am some great man of faith and understanding, but because I've had jacked up views of God in the past, but I thought they were as normal as the sun coming up in the morning. Hell, I probably have exchanged those jacked up views for other jacked up views.
At the end of the day (and at the beginning, for that matter) I just have to remind myself that I have chosen to follow the path of Christ and that regardless of how little I know about what that actually means, I can at least try to do the small stuff well. I can try to be faithful to God and love his people and, in the meantime, try my best to do no harm.
The harder stuff, forgiveness, actually becomes easy with age.