In the 1700’s Johnathan Edwards, a New England minister penned a famous sermon that contributed to a revival in our young country. He depicted a person dangling on a string with the flames of Hell fire lapping at his ankles. This narrow image of God is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Greco-Roman gods were famous for toying mortals and in the dark ages parishioners paid indulgences to keep their family out of Purgatory.
It’s in our nature to distort reality, especially when it affects us and the more it affects us, the more we distort.
I was convinced of how pervasive evil is in this world when my son was killed by a little old lady in a mini-van. All she wanted to do was drop off her husband and do some errands on a clear Sunday morning before going home to her family. It was pure evil that turned her minivan into a missile, that caused her not to look twice, that planted the thought, “I can cross four lanes of traffic,” and focused her actions on herself. She is not unlike the rest of us. It could have been me in that minivan – it could have been you.
God didn’t have my son Aaron on the end of a string; evil took over. But in the middle of that evil, a former Marine and his wife stopped their car and tried to revive our son. A year later they came to the trial to show their support and give us their love.
I couldn’t hate that woman, any more than I could hate God. There is too much hatred in today’s world. It starts with a lack of listening, and is compounded by pointing a finger at anyone that disagrees with us. All we need to do pay attention to the labels we give each other and you will know that evil is present. When we are emotional, we project (like a movie projector) our feelings onto someone else, including God.
We picture God on the other end of the string. God isn’t on the string – evil is.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Gal 6:12).
Why am I still wasting my time allowing my string to be pulled by political parties, petty emotional disputes, and other peoples’ opinions?
We who have lost life have a special gift. We know how valuable life is. The younger, the older, the more vulnerable life is, the more valuable it becomes. We know that. We have experienced evil and all its ugliness. We have a chance to live in freedom. But we still let our nature get pulled by pettiness.
After five months of walking from Georgia to Maine I sat around a camp fire listening to people worrying how they were going to get home. I just laughed. “Have you learning anything? I just walked over two-thousand miles and I don’t how I got here. I know I will get home.”
I read the New Testament from cover to cover while hiking. It’s not that difficult to do. Do you know what happens at the end in Revelations, ? God wins. That’s it. That’s all anyone really knows for sure. God wins. We go home and we get to hug our children.
Yup, evil runs this world. Yup, life counts. Yup, this world is not my home. And yup, God wins.
Isn’t it time I start living like it? I am so impressed by the people who have dedicated their life making the life of their child a meaningful experience for someone else. It may be a scholarship, a memorial, or a fund to help others. It keeps them focused on all the good things in their child and the good things that can happen in this world. They are refocused on others, no longer victims, they are survivors. They give me hope.
It’s understandable that people get wrapped up in politics and the issue of the day. It’s predictable that we attack each other. And it’s unfortunate that we let ourselves become pawns and get distracted by what really matters. But most importantly, count it gain when you rise up and take care of the vulnerable. When you do it for the least of these, you do it for God, and you do it for your baby.
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. Look forward to his upcoming posts, quiz, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.