Friday, August 30, 2013

Cancerous Consequences

This post is a little late, today.  And I'm suspecting will be less doctrinally steeped than most of my posts.  Yesterday, I had nothing in mind to write here.  There were some things that I could expand on, but nothing was coming.  So, I did what came naturally.  I went to bed, planning to tackle this post early in the morning.  As I was falling asleep, all kinds of topics started to flow, but none enough to get up and either write down a note or to start this post.  And none stuck enough to come to the forefront of my mind when I got up.  But there are lessons in the process of giving life to this post.

I grew up with some physical challenges.  As a child, I didn't like them much and argued with God about them often.  Those very challenges were the thing that got me together with one nun for catch up catechism classes.  Our family was Roman Catholic.  And that nun was essential to molding the final product that would be present day Bill Kraski.  While I no longer recall any of the details of what I was taught, her love for Jesus Christ is a memory still firmly implanted in my mind.  That love for God rubbed off on me.  God never wastes anything, not even a physical handicap.

As I grew up, I became aware of a number of churchgoers who were there out of obligation, not out of a love for God.  That gave me an excuse for leaving the church, living in forms of behavior that were not a credit to God nor particularly healthy for me.  I'm not going into detail on that part of my life. It's not edifying and I don't want to glorify anything from that time, even accidentally.  But 20/20 hindsight shows me that, although God didn't approve of my behavior, He didn't ignore or waste that time of my life, either.  And that's where we want to park and look at a few things.

How often have we heard someone say that God is cruel or shows no personal interest because He allows people to go to hell.  Back in the day, when I wasn't following Him, I may have used that excuse to do as I pleased with no regard for anything to do with God.  But there's an interesting truth that comes out of bad behavior, if we pay attention.  Whatever we choose to think and do has consequences.  And we can easily avoid negative consequences by making right decisions.  When we look at all the things that some would claim prove how cruel God is, they really prove how gracious He is.

It's pointed out that God suggested or ordered mass slayings in the Old Testament.  And some will feel sorry for the slain.  But there are several things we need to realize.  If we were diagnosed with cancer, we wouldn't suggest that the doctor ought to leave some of the cancer cells because it's cruel to kill all of them.  God is omniscient.  He knows if we're ever going to change attitudes and behavior, He knows if we'd NEVER change.  And He certainly would know if a person or people would be a spiritual cancer, in need of surgical removal.  The problem, through history, isn't that God is cruel, but who interpreted those actions to support similar, more recent actions.  Or interpreting the Biblical instances from a less than complete understanding of God's heart.

The New Testament shows us that God acts out of love for His creation.  The Old Testament points to the New.  So, do we look at certain tribes being killed as cruelty or as protective love for those remaining?  We do have a choice how we look at things.  In various branches of science we say that every action has a reaction -- choices have consequences.  We recognize that this is how creation works and how it ought to work.  But add God to the picture and some would suggest that there should be no consequences.  And God is cruel for allowing them.  But let's look at that idea from another viewpoint.

I have a couple of tomato plants in my back yard.  Some of the tomatoes seem to take a long time to ripen on the vine.  If I wait too long to pick them, they'll rot before they vine ripen.  I can pick them early and let them ripen in a bowl in my kitchen or I can let them rot on the vine.  Whatever my choice, there is a consequence.  I can have ripe flavorful tomatoes to enjoy or I can have rotten tomatoes that must be thrown away because they're inedible for a variety of reasons.

Creation was intended to be as ripe, flavorful, and enjoyable as my tomatoes.  If I don't learn what keeps things going in that direction, I have other consequences.  If I want great tomatoes, I get and follow advice and instructions.  I learn how to plant them, nourish and water the plants, and when to pick the tomatoes.  The same is true for living life.  I have a Bible, preachers, teachers, and other believers to instruct me in the way I should go.  If I choose to ignore that instruction, there are consequences to doing that, too.

I started by saying I had nothing to write, last night.  So, I went to bed.  I realize that the world won't end if I don't post something.  But, if I had forced my thoughts and my words into a post, just to get it out on time, there would have been a consequence.  It would have been very much like both of us eating one of those rotten tomatoes.  Waiting till this morning also has its consequences. Hopefully, we both gain spiritual nutrition by my doing things in God's time, with God's input.

It all comes down to trusting God for all things.  When we look back, even the negative situations have positive results.  It's not God's fault if I choose wrongly, but He'll use even that for my benefit. And all I have to do is look for the blessing, in order to see it.  I choose not to see the glass as half empty or half full, but always completely full -- the space is there for a reason, too.  What are you doing to fill your spiritual glass, today?

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