Well, it’s been two days and I think I’m starting to adapt. Most of yesterday I struggled to get from the chair to the bathroom to the dining room table where my computer is set up on crutches. I hated it!
Oh it was tolerable enough with Roberta around to get things for me, but she will be gone 12 hours a day starting Monday, so I needed to think of something else. So I tried using a roling office chair my friend Rachel gave me, and it seems to be doing the job. I get around for the most part and my bad foot never gets any weight put on it as per doctors orders. It is still a drag though.
Fortunately, a pleasant distraction arrived to help take my mind off things – my good friend David. David lives in Goderich and had a day or so off work and knowing of my situation decided to come down and pay me a visit. He stopped in just before supper last night and we had a great time eating, talking and watching on old sci-fi movie on DVD.
I suppose that’s one advantage of what’s going on right now. If things were the way they normally are I wouldn’t have been home to visit with David; instead I likely would have been out and about doing something somewhere. This situation has certainly caused me to slow down. As I mentioned earlier, I had been looking for a way to do just that, to find more time to write, to read, and to get a few other things done. It makes me wonder if I was so busy, so obsessed with all the tasks I needed to perform that this was the only way God could get my attention. That seems rather extreme, but then Israel wasn’t far different.
Time and again in the Bible we find Israel ignoring God to the point where the only way He can bring them up short enough to listen for a while is to have some other nation drop in and conquer them. Then of course, they spend more time wailing and complaining then listening, but eventually they clue in, get their act together, and pay attention. Then God puts the other nation in its place and Israel is fine for another generation until they decide they know better than God and follow the same destructive pattern of behaviour.
There’s no denying that I do have a hard time slowing down and focusing, even though prayer and meditation are part of my routine. But is it reasonable to imagine that God would allow such an injury to take place just to get my attention, or am I just reading something into the situation trying to find some meaning that will make it less agonizing?
I mean, if this accident is entirely the result of my own stupidity, then I have nobody to blame but myself. But, if it is the maneuverings of divine providence, then it’s not entirely my fault. God did this to get my attention, in fact, in some bizarre way it is an answer to prayer and I am completely off the hook for not looking where I was going and falling down that stupid hole. Wouldn’t that make this a good thing?
Truth is, I’ve had a few people tell me that is exactly what is happening and I should regard this situation as a gift from God, sent by Him in answer to my needs. Frankly, I don’t buy it.
You see, while it’s true that God is all about forgiveness, the scripture makes it clear he’ also about taking responsibility for our own actions. He didn’t let Moses off the hook; his rebellion kept Him from entering the promised land. He didn’t cut David any slack; his disobedience cost him a son and kept him from fulfilling His dream to build the temple. Moses, David and many others all eventually learned from their experiences and were blessed by God in what they did; but forgiveness was never a blank cheque. They all had to live with the consequences of their actions.
That’s why some non-Chrsitians have a hard time with the idea of forgiveness. They see it as some kind of cosmic ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card and to them it’s just wrong that people who do bad things don’t have to pay the price. Unfortunately some Christians look at it that way too and that does a disservice to God and His message.
Forgiveness does not mean you don’t have to face the consequences of your actions, it means you want have to pay the price for what you did beyond those consequences. There is a commoon feeling among people in general that if what you have done is bad enough you should have to pay for it over and over and over again. That there is no amount of suffering that will balance the books for what you have done. They want the sinner to suffer not just once, but always, and for the rest of their lives, because that’s the only way they can see justice being done. Because to them justice means balancing the books, and eye for an eye.
But God’s Justice is a little different. God’s justice recognizes that in the sum of all things it is impossible to balance the books. We will never, no matter how hard we try, manage to achieve justice because even an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth doesn’t make things right. It just makes us feel better because revenge is sweet and since it’s sweet it is the most incidous form of comfort food. Because revenge makes us think we have justice because the books appear to have been balanced, but in reality we’ve just been given a candy that makes us feel better because we got someting out of it.
That’s why God’s justice is different, because it’s about paying the immediete unavoidable consequences of what we do, without making us the victims of revenge. Forgiveness wipes the slate clean, so that instead of falling prey to revenge, we can like Daivd, learn from our mistakes and go on to be a blessing to others.
Because we also need to realize that the victims of revenge are not just those who commit the sin, but those who seek revenge are also it’s victims. Because like comfort food revenge does not deal with the problem, it just make us feel better and distracts us from the problem, so it never gets dealt with properly. You see, forgiveness is the remedy not just for the sinner, but for those who have been sinned against as well. It purges us of the pain we feel that causes us to never be satisfied. That pain is why justice never seems enoough and revenge appears as the only answer. For both sides forgiveness is the only solution.
By now I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Dennis, how did we get from you falling down a hole having more time to write, to pondering the varities of justice and revenge? Man isn’t that a bit of a stretch?”
Well, yes, I suppose it is. But that’s what happens when you give a guy time to think and to ponder. And yet it’s not that big a stretch either because the nature of justice and forgiveness is at the root of how God works. It would not be just for God to inflict pain solely for the purpose of teaching me a few things. Israel’s perils were a direct result of their choosing to violate a covenant that they made with God at Mount Sinaih, the attacks by other nations were never random.
So my current situation is not God’s doing. I don’t believe that for a second. However, just as with Israel, God is not above using my stupidity to His advantage. I didn’t see the hole, now I’m here; and so is God, and while He forgices my stupidity he’s not above taking advantage of the situation. I’m sureHe has a few things he wants to draw to my attention while He has it. The question is will I quit complaining about the inconveniences of my current situation long enough to listen to what He has to say?
I pray that I do. Until next time…