Saturday, July 29, 2006

Chance or not

Writing down my thoughts yesterday did actually bring a degree of clarity to what is going round in my head right now, so I felt I ought to put it down in words, to sort of explain yesterdays post.

I was just reading some posts on a friends blog, (, and one of them spoke about her thoughts on suffering and the providence of God. She used this quote to help her thoughts:

“When one person gets cancer and another does not, that is not because God wants one of them to get cancer, it is because the world is fallen and not as God wanted it and chance has been at work. When Christians deny that luck plays any part, they are often implicitly (though usually unintentionally) attributing all disaster, suffering and death to the hand of God. But God is good. We need, therefore, to accept that there is an element of chance in the way things turn out.” Michael Lloyd

I have to say that reading that summed up my confusion quite accurately. How much of what 'happens' in this world is attributable to God? Is God behind everything? Certainly he knows about everything, but how much of it happens because God made it so? Rather than looking at the situation of someone getting cancer, lets turn it round and say that there are two people already with cancer, (or whatever - put any situation you want in the place of cancer here!), both of whom have people around them praying for their healing. Say one person dies, and one recovers, well, the friends of the one who recovered would most likely thank God for answers to prayer, attributing the healing to God. But what about the one who died? Why did God not answer that prayer? Or rather, why was His answer to that one 'no'? Could it not just be that the treatment worked on one and not the other? How do we know that God was involved at all? Are we sure that this is not, in actual fact, attributable to chance rather than God? If so, how then can we know when it is God that does something in our lives and when is it chance? When do we pray for something, or say thankyou for something?

On the other hand, God could be absolutely in charge of everything - chance could be non-existant. Certainly there would be concerns here, (such as why is there suffering, why do some people suffer and not others etc), but surely a God who is in control of everything, (and also totally loving by the way), would have reasons for all these things. We may not know why now, but as long as God does, that's what matters.

Which one is it? Do we even need to know? I am toying with the thought that maybe, just maybe, this is supposed to be a bit ambiguous. Maybe we are supposed to not really know exactly how much control God chooses to exert over the world in which we live. Would us knowing actually make any difference to the way we live? Surely, even if God does leave some things to chance, we can still pray about it, and trust that God knows which situations to take control of and which not to? It would help to know, (and maybe some people think that they do know the answer to this - maybe I am just a bit thick!), but I guess that its part of our responsibility to just trust despite the fact that things seems confusing. Its a case of choosing to trust despite the ambiguity.

We are truly blessed to be able to have a God who is worthy of our trust. He is so good, so holy, so upright, so loving and so just that we can trust Him to know how to deal with our world. We can give all our situations to Him and know that by just putting faith in God, all things will work out for good, (whether it seems like it in this life or not). Thanks God for being so wonderful, so so totally trustworthy. I choose right now to trust you with this world - to trust that regardless of my uncertainties, and misunderstanding, You in fact know what You are doing. Thanks, and please help me to leave it there, knowing that it is in Your hands.

Friday, July 28, 2006

God - an individual relationship?

I guess I will start with the question that has been at the forefront of my mind for a long while now; is God involved with our lives on an individual basis? - is he interested in the decisions, choices, and questions that we face as individuals or is he interested more on a sort of community level? Now this might seem an odd question, as I know that the Bible is seen to be quite clear about the fact that he does have a personal relationship with each of us, but let me clarify a bit further what I mean using Abraham as an example.

God established His coveneant with Abraham. He promised Abraham that he would have many descendents - and (eventually!) provided him with a son. God tested him in his devotion to God - and Abraham passed, so this son became the one through whom the covenant would be fulfilled. The promises that God gave to Abraham would have meant a lot to Abraham. In those days the promise of many descedents would have been such a blessing to Abraham, but they didn't just serve as a purpose for making Abraham happy. It wasn't just about blessing Abraham. These promises served a greater purpose - that of the establishment of the nation Israel - The Children of God. I want to be clear; I don't think that this in any way diminishes what God did for Abraham, or makes God any less good or loving. If anything it makes Him more so. My point is simply that God's dealings with Abraham were not simply for the sake of Abraham.

I am still at the very early stages of these thoughts, and I have in no way thought this through properly yet, hence why I am using this blog! But here goes - this is where all these thoughts are leading:

How does God deal with, or relate to me? I am but one individual in a massive history of Christians. There is nothing particularly that sets me apart or makes me different to any of the others, and yet, apparently, God is meant to "be my Father", my "friend". And apparently, He "loves me". (I feel at this point that I have to say sorry to God for even questioning this. The truth is that I know really deep down that He is and does, I just don't really get it. I know He understands my search for understanding). I think my problem with all this is the emphasis on me. If God is my Father - that puts the emphasis on me in the sense that a Father is there to look after their child and to nurture them. What about putting the emphasis differently. I am God's son, and therefore my role is to make my Father proud, to be obedient and to do all that I can for Him. When I pray or speak to God, is it right that I should bring to Him all my concerns, hopes and desires, asking Him to bless me, when the focus is so heavily on me. Will God answer those prayers? Does He even care about them - except where they relate to the growth of His Kingdom and my role in that. I think that is the crux of it for me. Does God care about the things of "life", that I really care about unless these are the very things that themselves have an impact on His Kingdom. In other words, should I be asking Him for the things that I really really want, even though they are worldly desires which show that I am still attatched to (and to some extent - love), this world, and probably have no bearing on His Kingdom.

Does God care about those things? Does He look at me and see what I desire and long to make me happy as a Father does His child? Does He care, and yet ask me to give them up because they are of this world, not His Kingdom? Does it pain Him to see me struggle through that giving up process? Or does He look at those desires, see they are not relevant, and not even bother to get invloved because they are not to do with Him anyway?

I guess I am seeing Him right now as a bit of a distant God who requires that we fulfil certain criteria, who only gets involved in our lives where it might have a real impact on His Kingdom, and who gets angry when we sin and don't meet the requirements He expects of us.

On top of this, I get really concerned when I hear people say, "I wouldn't have got through this time without God". What does that actually mean? What does God do to help people through this time, and why are we so convinced that without God we wouldn't have made it? Non-Christians seem to manage ok. What truly is the difference between me and a non-Christian aside from the fact of Salvation and all the joy that brings? What is the difference in day to day life except that my focus ought to be on building the Kingdom? Are there any other things that are different? When we say God answered my prayer, and a non-Christian would tell us that it was a coincidence, are we convinced that it was actually God? Why? How can we be sure?

Deep down I know that God is a God that gets involved in the lives of us as individuals. He is involved in my life. And yet, I just don't really get how. I don'y really get why He seems to answer some prayers and not others, whether I am allowed to ask Him for the things I want, or whether I should instead be striving to not care about them any more. I know that I can have an impact on His Kingdom and He does have a plan for my life. I know that - but I know it in my heart, not my head. (I know the other way round to usual.) I tend to rely on my head to make my decisions, not necessarily my heart, and so not understanding these things makes it hard for me to believe that I can actually do anything for God.

God is closer than you think. Is He? I really hope that studying this book at the corps for a while will help with that. I need to know that He is in my head as well as my heart.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I am off work sick, but bored and not able to sleep, so, I thought I would start a blog. Actually, I do have a reason for wanting to do this other than just being bored right now. I am really hoping that this blog is going to be a great place for me to just spill the contents of my head. I don't know if anyone is like me in this, but sometimes if I hear or read something that doesn't quite sit with me right, or I don't understand or know how to deal with, I will try to store it away in my mind to come back to later. I will have all these good intenetions to pick it up at another time, and to read up on it to try to get to grips with what it means. Eventually though, I either just forget about it, or my brain gets so filled with "stuff", that I can't really get any sort of clarity about anything (Much like this post already demonstrates!). Therefore, I am going to treat this blog as a bit of a dumping ground for the things going round my head. I don't evwen know if I am going to tell anyone about this blog. I am not using this to try to meet new people or even to let the people I already know see what is going on in my head. It is, simply enough, a dumping ground, and a place for me to try to work out a few of the answers to all these uncertainties.

Anyway. That is what this blog is about and here for. I hope it doesn't get too confusing.

Thas all for now