Our friend John Garfield shared a very valuable lesson about when accidents happen. With all that has been going on I thought this would be a great time to share it.
Kings and the Sovereignty of God
John Garfield – Releasing Kings
Accidents are a real part of life, even for Kings. Setbacks and misfortune are usually a real part of everyone’s life. Often times when something goes wrong we reel in our initiative and question both our own walk and God himself. Kings must have a theologically correct stance on problems because they live so close to real life and spiritual warfare – or they risk losing their willingness to be entrepreneurial (bold and decisive).
Historic Roots – Our evangelical beliefs have surprising roots in Church fathers like Augustine and the Protestant reformation. In the 4th and 5th centuries Christianity was opened to Greek and Roman thought. The Middle Ages was a transition when Christian thought adopted some of the tenants of Greek philosophy. God was thought to be a prime mover or force rather than having a personality and emotions. This philosophic force was an element of the protestant reformation when the term “sovereign” came into common use. “Sovereign” came to mean that God is the One Who causes all things. In other words, He is the Sole Originator of all thought, decisions, and actions. This word was superimposed over the Greek-originated concept of God as a force and came down to us essentially unchanged.
When accidents happen, we’re prone to think of God as being responsible because of our evangelical heritage. If a family loses a child, then we hear Christians consoling one another that God took the child home to soften the blow that death was known and planned by a sovereign God. What happens if we assign God responsibility for the bad things that happen according the theology that most of us subscribe to? In an effort to avoid resenting God and becoming bitter or rebellious, we accept whatever comes to as God’s best. We view ourselves as sinful, small, and occasionally disposable. Passivity pervades every facet of our lives “plus” we move toward viewing God as impersonal, uncaring, and unreliable. We view ourselves as ants under the cosmic Lordship of a God we neither understand nor trust. Lastly, we never admit to ourselves or anyone else this is true because we know it is disrespectful toward God. Wrong theology leads us to emphasize the nobility of death instead of the life of resurrection. We naturally gravitate toward pessimism, cynicism, skepticism, doubt, unbelief, caution, wariness, and a steadfast refusal to take a risk – trust God in a step of faith to do something beyond our natural strength.
If, indeed, God orchestrates every detail of our lives, then logically the only thing we can do is align with our predetermined path. Under this view of God we must be concerned primarily with avoiding rebellion, presumption, and personal ambition – all things that compete with the will of “The Force.” Our spiritual disciplines are directed at zeroing out personal initiative so we don’t get out of God’s will. Like robots, if God doesn’t touch the joy stick, we don’t make a move. We’re left theologically unwilling to take a risk and follow a leading that we might confuse with personal initiative or rebellious ambition. Worse yet, we become impersonal and uncaring the more times we are hardened by the death we see in the normal course of life. Age increases our cynicism instead of our love and enthusiasm for walking with God.
Where’s Reality – God is entirely personal, emotional, and knowable. He does not orchestrate every detail of our future – He leaves much to our initiative and delights in leaving room for human enterprise. He does have a plan to redeem the world and he does have the power to intervene whenever he chooses. However, the future is open instead of orchestrated. Accidents can happen and God is not responsible. For example, 18 died in one accident recorded in scripture. Of those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them; do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! Luke 13:4-5
After a shipwreck where the crew survived, Paul was “snake-bit.” A bad situation that was not part of God’s plan that probably required some level of healing! Note that the locals ascribed God the responsibility for his death. When that didn’t happen, they decided he wasn’t human. It was an accident that they had no theology to support!
4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god. Acts 28:4-6
Snake-bit? – Have you suffered a loss, a failure, a setback? Of course! We all have. Did God plan to destroy a part of your life? No, he did not. Was he judging your desperately wicked, sinful heart? No, he created you and likes you the way you are.
Might men that “overcome” – You see, God comes in on the resurrection side of the equation to add “life” and “blessing” to us. Once we understand who God is and what He’s really like we can know both Him and His power. We are not insulated from accidents or suffering. We just know that when death occurs it’s a signal to start looking for the resurrection. We know a loving God that assigns angels to watch over us and protect us. We know the armor of His protection in spiritual warfare. And most of all, we know the joy that comes to the heart of our heavenly Father when we initiate and create and exercise faith to do the greater works that go beyond our strength and utilize His power.
Walk toward the desires of your heart. You will find God waiting for you there. Your life is a great adventure and you are scripted to be its hero. In fact, Jesus is handing you the pen to help write the script… and he’s giving you an anointing to make it so.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
I believe this topic is pivotal for Kings and I’m personally drawn to knowing the God of the Bible instead of the God of tradition. Here are three resources that will take you further down this path of freedom that will bless your heart.
Who is God (Chapters 17-18) by Harold Eberle
Releasing Kings (Chapters 7-8, especially page 56)
Our Newsletter from March, “Initiative is Precious.”
John & Harold
PS: if you enjoyed this article you might also like “Six Ways to Find Your Heart’s Desire.” The full story is in our book Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace, particularly chapter 7.