Friday, September 05, 2008

Stepping On Landmines

That sounds like it ought to be the title of a book! It isn’t! It is, however, a rather apt description of part of my afternoon! We are not talking about real landmines just proverbial ones – but they can do just as much damage. They may not rip off a leg or anything, but they can rip a large hole in your heart.

The thing about landmines, so I gather, is that you don’t know they are there until you’ve stepped on one. The landscape you are walking through looks harmless. It may be that you have walked the route often without injury!

I got into conversation with some young people this afternoon, talking about the existence of God. We were batting back and forth opinions about whether there was a God or not. I suppose there is a tendency to take out the usual reasons from the back of the mind, dust them off and present them much like a conjurer talking a rabbit out of a hat! I talked about the precise nature of the universe. If it all begins with a Big Bang – don’t explosions create chaos rather than order? The world is too full of balance and mathematical details for it to have come about by chance.

One young lady talked more personally and spoke about prayers she had had answered, and for her it was proof that there was a God.

“What about the ones that don’t get answered?”

The young man who asked the question shared a heart breaking story of his grandmother who had been a devout church goer. She never missed a Sunday. A wonderful lady who gave herself unreservedly to God, she got sick. He prayed for her to recover, but she died.

“How come God answered your prayers, but he ignored mine?”

There is no answer to that one. It seemed to open the floodgates. Other young people who had been happy to sit back and let the loud ones speak suddenly came up with their own unanswered prayer experiences. One young man shared about his mother’s pregnancy. Up until quite close to the birth everything was going well. Suddenly there were difficulties and she was in hospital. He prayed for the safe recovery of his mother and the baby, but she miscarried.

“Where was God then?”

You can’t be a Christian for long before you encounter these hurdles. Things just don’t add up the way they should. Good people go through hell on earth. Why isn’t their goodness somehow a vaccination against bad stuff happening? Bad people make our lives a misery and yet they sail through life apparently immune. It wouldn’t be so bad if these were just little issues – but they are huge! They are mountain sized issues. Those with faith are just as much liable to flattened when they fall on top of them.

I have learned over the years to live in a state of paradox. Things happen that cause me personal heartbreak, but my underlying faith, although bashed about, remains very much intact. There are times I ask “Why?” Sometimes I get an answer, most times I don’t and I remind myself that one day I will know. One day there will be no more of the “though a glass darkly”. For now, not understanding, I try my best to trust in the character of the God I know, love and follow.

I have come to that place in life when I realise that I don’t really need to know the answers. I don’t need a neat and tidy box, although that does help! I just need to know that God is with me in it. I have found my rock.

Helping someone else to find their answers is a challenge.

“I don’t know” might well be an honest answer, but it is not the answer they are looking for.

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