Five years ago, I was at a local pizza joint with two girls who were
enrolled in my confirmation class. The subject: the Bible. When I
mentioned how the Bible is often referred to as “the Word of God,” one
of the girls scrunched up her nose and shook her head. “I don’t think
about the Bible that way,” she said. “When I think about it,” she
continued, “it’s more like the work of God than the Word of God.”
Bible is an account of the work of God. It paints a portrait of a very
busy God. Of course, the problem isn’t so much with what God does, it’s
accounting for what God doesn’t do. If God is capable of creating the
universe and everyone in it, why doesn’t God fix it and us when we’re
On one extreme, there are those who think that God
magically intervenes in human affairs. A member of my husband Mike’s
former congregation holds this belief. When the church was about to run
out of noodles at the annual spaghetti dinner, she asked Mike to
convene a prayer group so God would send more pasta. Instead of praying
for noodles, he used his noodle and went to buy some.
other hand, there are those who believe God created the world and
stepped back to let it run its course — took an early retirement, so to
speak. Proponents of this position believe that God no longer does
anything in the world. But what kind of divine parent would abandon its
The nature of God’s action is to work in and through us. I
believe that as a human being, I am genuinely free to act as I choose,
but that God created the good at the core of me. In that way, God’s
creative activity inherently defines and shapes my goodness.
couple of months ago, a man named Raheed attended a chapel service I
was leading, after which he asked that I say a prayer for him. He
wanted to get his truck-driving licence so he could earn enough money
to bring his family to Canada. Not long after, Raheed attended another
chapel service. He said my prayer changed his life: he got his licence.
Did my prayer get him his licence? No. But it might well have given him
the sense of calm and confidence he needed on the day of the exam. And
was God spurred to action because I tossed a prayer God’s way? I hope
not. I’d hate to think that God is any more my puppet than I am God’s.
even though I doubt God answers prayers the way the tooth fairy leaves
a toonie under my son’s pillow, I don’t doubt that God acted at all.
The intellect God invested in Raheed caused him to seek help. The
goodness God invested in me inspired me to be there to offer it. What
did God do? God created the circumstance in which the prayer could be
Some take the presence of suffering in the world as a
sign that there is no God. I see it as an indication that humanity has
not embraced the divinity God has created in us. We could end famine
and war tomorrow if we put our collective heart into it. We could
address global warming. We could prevent the poor and marginalized from
having to build their homes in areas more prone to landslides. We could
change the workweek so the stress of our jobs didn’t disrupt our
relationships and kill us prematurely. We could put more money into
researching the causes of illness and disease than padding the World
Instead we, as the Adam and Eve story goes,
succumb to worldly temptations, pick the wrong fruit from the tree and
suffer the consequences.
The metaphor might sound trite, but I
think that God continually plants seeds of goodness in our hearts, and
provides all that is needed for their growth. It’s our choice to see
that the seeds are nurtured. In this way, we are completely dependent
on God and yet completely free to make decisions. Every good deed, act
and experience can be understood as originating in God.
Bible says, God is at work in the world, creating, redeeming and
sustaining. Humanity can’t limit God’s creativity any more than we can
tell the sun to stop shining.
Keep it free!
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