Defining God Through My Lens
I have been contemplating an astounding thought. It has been germinating all my life, I suppose, but is getting more into focus the last couple of years. Something bad happened to me and members of my family almost two years ago. My daughter was hurt. People sinned; were unkind, unthoughtful, arrogant, dismissive, and a whole lot of other adjectives I am not going to list right now. But, needless to say, it was a bad situation.
But here’s the confusing part for me, these people were Christian people! People in leadership positions at Bob Jones University and Bob Jones Academy who supposedly “speak for God.” You dare not have any other viewpoint than what their initial mindset or take on the situation is. If they lie to you or don’t do what they said they would, then they of course are “right.” They would never apologize to you. They will beat you with a huge stick and step back and announce that anything they say or do was obviously God’s will for you. They will work hard to find any possible fault with you and focus on your failings instead of the situation at hand. (You understand that when I say “you,” I mean “me.” I speak from experience here.)
So I have been imagining God’s role in the bad situations that come into our lives. And here’s the scenario. My daughter was hit with a duct tape ball as she was playing her flute at a pep band at Bob Jones Academy. This thing came soaring from the top bleacher and nailed her in her neck from behind. Best I can tell, it practically broke her neck. So, these people tell me that this is “God’s will?” That’s the same as saying that Jesus sat up there in the bleachers and lobbed the ball at my daughter. Would Jesus do something so awful as that? Jesus, the healer of the broken hearted and binder of wounds? Would you have hurt my daughter like that? If people would not intentionally do something as destructive as that, then why is it okay to say that God did it? Obviously a person did do this to my daughter. A person who was never even confronted with the carelessness and devastation of her actions. A person who has never apologized to my daughter.
“This is God’s will” is a way to deflect responsibility from irresponsible people. Just think–a perfect cop out–God’s will. We didn’t have adequate supervision–oh wait, not our lack, it must have been God’s will. We knew about and continued to allow year after year a heavy duct tape ball to be played with at our sports events. Oh wait, not us, God’s will–God did that! “Mrs. XXXX, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you understand that it was God’s will? You’re just going to have to get over it and accept that it was God’s will for your daughter.” (Almost direct quote from Dr. Sid Cates.) What a frightening thing to use God as the scapegoat. Responsible actions don’t even have to be taken–just declare any adverse effects on the will of God. After all, God did allow it, didn’t he? No thought for safety must ever be taken, because anything bad is just God’s will. And that obviously has been how Bob Jones Academy has been operated for many years. We’d all be surprised about how many aspects of their aging buildings are out of code and unsafe and were operated for years like that. Bob Jones Academy–the redheaded stepchild of Bob Jones University. The last to get any attention.
But I digress, in a way. The thing I wanted to talk about is who is this God? If I define him based on my experiences and what Bob Jones has told me God is, that’s wrong. My God cannot be defined based on my immediate circumstances or administrators’ pratter. God’s character can be revealed through these terrible human situations, but I dare not define God by them. In other words, defining God through my lens of this one situation would be a terrible mistake. One in which I am sure many people have been quagmired when bad things have entered their lives. “How can a good God allow bad things to people?”
More later. I need to run an errand very quickly before my son leaves to go back to Bob Jones University. I know, what are we thinking? It wasn’t my decision, really. It was his. And I will just wait with bated breath to see if he will receive any unduly harsh treatment from those BJU folk. My feeling is that he will. But I will let this scenario play without any intervention from me. Uhhh…..those hypocritical liars……