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Saturday, September 20, 2014

On the 20th Anniversary of My Dad’s Death

       Right now the clock says that it is exactly the 20th anniversary of the auto accident that left me fatherless.  Over the course of the last two decades more bitterness than I want to admit has crept into me under my radar. The crash (and my responses to it) has stunted my growth.  I was robbed of my greatest coach. 
      That is not to deny that numerous blessings have come my way in the wake of my Dad's passing.  The intensity of the bereavement, itself, kept me from venturing things during my thirties which my marriage and children might not have withstood. My Mother, too, has been able to enjoy other relationships and have a rich life that she never would have had with my Dad. So, I know that “in all things God works together for good.”  
        But he did not commit negligent homicide in order to accomplish that good. I know there is a difference between what some people call God’s “desirous will” and his “permissive will.” But to speak of a “permissive will” in God that wills to let things happen which God does not properly will to happen surely borders on linguistic nonsense.  God did not want Humanity (Adam) to mess up the creative agency of the temple compound we call Eden.  His creative intent for the world is not finally thwarted by the Humanity's rebellion, but the entire biblical witness makes plain that his purposes are foolishly resisted by earthly, demonic and human agencies. 
     To say mayhem is in any way "God’s will," obscures the fact that God has ultimately promised to undo the world’s mess.  Instead of looking at moral chaos as if it were permitted or even orchestrated precisely for some limited and inscrutable good, we should celebrate that God has ultimately declared that all such chaos will not stand.  It is damnable.  It's days are numbered.          
     God created the world in freedom and in love, intending to have a free and loving relationship with the world in which he necessarily may be resisted. The scandal of the cross is precisely that the rightful Sovereign Ruler of Israel is vulnerable in this way.  Against the Lord's creative vision of lions lying down with lambs, the earth, almost from the moment God commanded that it bring forth life, has spawned organisms that depend on death and dying.  At a deep structural-elemental level (see the stoichea in Gal 4:3, Col 2:8 and 2 Peter 3:10) death has lodged itself within the world’s creative processes.  
        Yes, God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” but it has been manifest since the garden that his will is not to control everything. Reckless drivers just keep resurfacing. God’s Spirit hovers over the ancient Deep, but the breakers of the Deep surge up against the Lord’s floodgates.    And so my recommendation is that rather than trying to baptize the chaotic forces of the world, pretending that they are somehow part of God's inscrutable plan, we would be better served to develop a more vivid view of God's endgame.  For when the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven to destroy death—when the messed up structural elements of the world shall “melt in fervent heat”—when God mysteriously makes all things new—"there will be no longer any [chaotic] sea." (Revelation 21;1)
      Such visions raise a lot of questions none of us can answer.  But I cling to the hope that on that day I shall somehow mysteriously “inherit the land.”  I will see Jesus.  And I will have my Dad back.  In that sense I can never be permanently cheated of anything.  Entering into this hope is the only way I've found that any subconscious bitterness can ever be named and released.