I’m reading another media account of a horrible shooting- again. A New Mexico teen shot and killed his family early in the morning last week, then went to the church they attended and spent the day there. His father, who was among those he murdered, used to be on staff at the church. I have nothing to say about the what’s and the why’s of this incident; another in a seemingly endless string of violent crimes in our nation. There is nothing I can add to the debate there. I am out of words…
What did strike me as I read this account was a comment by a church employee who first talked to the youth. After the young man had confessed to killing his family, he apparently told the authorities that he had been planning to go to a Wal-Mart and randomly shoot people there. Then I read this:
“That sends chills down my spine,” Harrison said. “But obviously, God had a different plan.”
This was the quote from the story that I stared at for a long time. Incredible.
Here’s what that statement implies: God involves himself in our daily affairs, and he sometimes intervenes and protects us from harm- or even death. And this man believes that God somehow intervened in this situation and prevented the young man from going to Wal-Mart and randomly killing people. Really? Was God asleep early that morning when the boy was shooting his mother and father and siblings? Was that God’s plan…but he had a different plan for the shoppers at Wal-Mart? So God can stand a little bit of murder, but- not a whole lot?! Do we think he is watching mayhem like that and then at some point- like an exasperated parent when the kids are bickering, he bellows out, “ok, that’s enough! no more!”
Do we even stop to think about statements like that when they come out of our mouths? “God had a different plan”. Yeah, maybe he had a plan for those little children to grow up and have a good, full life.
You might be inclined to say that was just one guy’s opinion; or that he spoke without thinking. But in all my years in Christianity I have heard that sentiment expressed a dozen different ways in hundreds of situations. God has a plan. God is in control. God’s will is going to be done. I have heard it over and over again.
In a recent discussion about the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, the opinions of those in the room were varied. Who’s in charge down here? If God is in control, how does that account for free will? He supposedly gave man free will in the garden so that we could choose to serve him or not- and he wouldn’t have just created a bunch of puppets who have no say in the matter.
But if we have free will, then God is really not in charge is he? And if he is in charge, and these kinds of things keep happening, then he’s not doing a very good job. No, I have to say I believe he’s not in charge. We are. And we don’t do a very good job sometimes. And it causes pain and suffering for others- and sometimes ourselves.
I just think it might be better if we didn’t try to imply that God had a plan when we mess it up time after time. God didn’t have a plan there. He wasn’t involved in any of it. Can we just admit that what goes on is just us being us? People are people. Some have some serious issues and need help. Some of us are meaner than others; some are nicer than others. Why do we have to try to find a way to attribute any of that to God?
It’s just broken people doing the best we can and often failing.
God isn’t involved in that. It’s just us.