The temptation to interpret good or bad events as the will of God for or against us is overwhelming at times. This question hit (no pun intended) with full force a day after leaving Summerland and wrapping up a 3-year role at the Baptist church. At 6:10 am the truck headlights on the other side of the road passed me by and in the fading glare was a windshield suddenly full of… moose. Instantly slamming brakes and moving towards the centerline I almost made it past her then she stumbled. My right wheel went over her and tipped up. Most vehicle encounters with these large animals on highways do not end well for drivers and vehicles, or the moose.
That should make you think the right side of the vehicle was wiped out and air bags deployed. Well I did go up on two wheels briefly – entertaining at that speed. Slowing to a stop I saw the windshield splattered – presumably with the animal’s blood in the darkness. I stepped out slowly and oddly noticed no blood was on the road. I was in an awful spot with no shoulders and a useless right wheel, but I had to find a pullout – with cell reception – currently lacking. About 10 minutes of the tire protesting and moving at a crawl brought me to safety. As the sun came up and I called the tow truck, I had time to assess the damages. The thoughts went through my brain somewhat sarcastically: “haha day two out from the church role and I guess my protection is over huh God?”
It can be so tempting can’t it to assign blame for bad things to God. But how about this – the moose was so close it filled my entire field of view in my windshield. How is it I struck hard enough to break tie rods and brake connections and bumper, but it never damaged the headlight, set off an airbag , or even slammed me into a seatbelt. It was like I hit an edge of a ramp at higher speeds. The trailer – unscathed, the right side of the vehicle not even a hairball. The substance I thought was blood in the darkness was actually mud. She must have run out of a swamp because it was everywhere. Yet, I woke up the next day with sympathy for a wounded animal rather than in a hospital bed with untold injuries.
Those who see the damage find it hard to believe I hit a moose. My very brief toying with the ‘why now God’ turned to profound gratitude and “glad it was just the broken wheel”. It made me keenly aware of both how fickle our tendencies (read: my nature) can be and how quickly I can swap points of view. It was easy to swap viewpoints when I saw what could have happened.
We live at a time when we can manipulate more variables than any civilization in history, thus we labor under the illusion that we exert more control of our circumstances than we actually do. What if I had stopped for coffee, or came down that last long hill a bit slower (I needed 1-extra second delay after all), what if the moose had balked when the first truck went by and ran back into the bush… and so on. What if hitting a moose saved me from a head on collision 10-minutes later? One can go mad with the ‘ripples on the pond’ questions. These questions are magnified with the impacts of our personal tragedies. There are no solutions to the equations and there is only one question ultimately to be answered. If God exists and is in control: Can He be trusted? When ultimate power is said to possess ultimate good there is no other recourse for those subject to His authority – whether aware of it, or you agree with it, or not.
Think about it – we serve a God we cannot see, trusting a savior on a mere promise, to unburden us from a problem the depth of which we are often too keenly aware. When you look at it (clinically of course) that way it seems like I should take it in stride if a northern moose meets my car on the highway. Of course, the deeper the trauma the more difficult to ‘take it in stride’, it is easy to be elated when only the car was damaged not the driver (well after the initial disgust wore off at least…).
The book of Job deals with such timeless questions with less than satisfying answers. It would appear you can bookend the entire message between 2 quotes: ”Man was born to trouble as surely as the sparks fly upwards” (Job 5:7) and after meeting God “I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).
No one can hope to even scratch the surface of these issues in a blog post, rather I hope to stimulate some thinking on the topic. At best, I am left with the saying that was pinned to my office wall these last 2 years – a quote from Charles Spurgeon. Consider it an attempt to address the unsolvable in the hands of the inept: “God is too good to be unkind and too wise to be mistaken. When we cannot see His hand, we must trust His heart”.
Farewell Summerland Baptist Church it has been an honor and a privilege, if a challenge at times, to serve as Lead Administrative Director these last 3 years.
Yours in Christ,