Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

John’s Comforters

Monday three extremely smart Christian friends met me for breakfast at Dave’s Diner then adjourned to my house where we discussed the burning theological issue of why God won’t let my lawnmower start.

Yes, that problem has bugged me all weekend.

The mower is only a couple of months old; and I have done all the right things to it, but it would not start Saturday when I needed it to.

I blame God.

I mean, if He is all knowing and all powerful and if He really loves me, then I figure such minor aggravations should not loom so large in my life.

My lawnmower ought to start!

Of course, I’m sure that any adult hearing me rant realizes that my frustration over my lawnmower represents a deep, on-going, life-long pain and that the lawnmower is only a symptom of a deeper, more serious hurt.

Everybody has a broken lawnmower in their life.

But mine bugs me.

I suppose I could concern myself with larger issues such as world hunger or the AIDS epidemic or the presidential election, but my mower is here and now sitting silent in my garden shed. If I knew I had done something wrong with it, then I could understand its not working. But, when you do everything right and life still goes wrong, then I think it only logical to hold the Creator of the Universe accountable.

Am I the only Christian to think this way?

My three comforters were Barbara, award-winning newspaper columnist.; Wes, a Greek and Hebrew scholar who is concerned because a student he is mentoring has bought a Stumblegardtunersbergstein text of the Hebrew Bible instead of the more correct one and Wes fears the student stands in danger of eternal perdition for reading this apostate text (would I make that up?); and Sam, who holds a degree in philosophy from Yale and runs an import business trading with Japan.

Having this august group of devout Christians at hand sitting around in my own back yard, naturally, I stopped scratching, put down my potsherd, looked up from the heap of ashes I sat on and raised the question: Why would anything bad ever happen to a nice guy like me?

How can I know that God loves me today?

Wes answered, “Because He says so”.

Wes said that the Bible’s authority confronts us with absolute truth. If we reject that there is such a thing as absolute truth, then we loose the concept of good and evil because we have no standard to judge what is right and what is wrong.

He said that in the Greek text of John 3:16 “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish” that the word “so” is not a word of intensity, but of manner. It’s not a case of God loved the world so much that He did something. Rather it’s a case of “Thus, God loved the world. He gave…”

When God’s word says God loves me, then I should believe that God loves me in spite of all evidence to the contrary — such as my lawnmower not starting.

I responded that actions speak louder than words. I could say I love my friends but if I treated my friends like God treats His, then they’d naturally doubt that I really love them.

Barbara pointed out that suffering in this world is but for a time. By it’s very nature bad is finite. There’s only so much bad that can happen, then it’s over. God’s goodness on the other hand is infinite. There is no end to the good that can happen to us.

As I recall she mentioned that passage from Hebrews, “But ye have need of patience, after that ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise”.

She said that the spiritual life is a journey. It is progressive. That by accepting what is going on in my life here and now, God will give me greater understanding or at least a degree of harmony with His will that life’s aggravations will hardly matter.

I argued that a major crisis is easier to deal with that the petty annoyances of day to day living. If a whale attacks you, you can harpoon the sucker; but what can you do when you’re being eaten alive by minnows?

(I hope you understand that I am compressing four hours of conversation into a few words; I hope I am not misrepresenting what any of us said).

Sam said, “Whom the Lord loveth, him He chasteneth”. A father shows his love by correcting his son — even if that correction means punishment. You don’t chasten somebody else’s kid, you don’t much care how they turn out; but you care deeply for your own children and you correct them because you envision them as good, decent, upstanding men and women.

Sam said that I need to trade expectation for vigilance.

Instead of expecting God to act like I’d like Him to act, I should drop my expectations and become vigilant by looking at what God is actually doing in my life and in the world in general. That would move me from the imaginary to the real.

Barbara and Wes talked about how hymn music plays a large part in their devotion and worship. I mentioned that the only song that’s been running through my head is “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”. The radio plays that thing continually recently.

Sam and Barbara also mentioned how petty my problems are when compared to the tribulations of some martyr I had never heard of before.

Yes, my problems are petty.

But they are mine.

They bother me.

Petty of not, these minnows keep me upset and off balance.

At that point, Wes quoted some preacher who told his congregation, “Sometimes when you is in the midst of tribulation, all you can do is just stand right there and tribulate”.

No whirlwind appeared to answer any of my questions.

But I could not help thinking, God may be trying to do me in, but He’s sent me some wonderful friends to comfort me while He does.

After my wonderful comforters left my house to go their separate ways, I thought it was too late to work on my fire history book and I felt the need of more uplifting spiritual input, so I watched the movie, Snakes On A Plane.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 3:40 AM


At 6:28 AM, Blogger Amrita said...

Playing the devil 's advocate is a nice way of getting your point across.

Your friends are right.God throws a jammer in the machine to test our faith, water our patiemce weeds, and many things are just natural consequrenses of events and choices.. maybe you bought a defective mower, what 's God to do about it.

Good read.

I' ve done a post about a wedding I went to have a look.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger pai said...

This entry is one of the many reasons I love reading your blog. It's entertaining, informative and instructive all at once.

Thank you.

Helen, D-IV

At 8:06 AM, Blogger pai said...

P.S. I've simply been asking for grace recently... seems to be working better for me than asking to win the lottery. :)

At 5:44 PM, Blogger along the way said...

John, if I called your troubles petty, shame on me! They are real and really frustrating. They just don't describe God's relationship to you.
Job had three friends, too. I wonder if they loved him as much as Wes and I love you. I don't know about Sam; he's newer.


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