Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reflections On Our Flooding

Victor Issa is one of the top sculptors in America today and is known for his remarkable ability to make bronze appear alive.  He attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska at the time I was there.  His studio is in Loveland, Colorado where I lived for 8 years.

Last week, Colorado experienced terrible flooding.  The Loveland area where Victor lives and works was very hard hit as was Estes Park where he has his Living Bronze Gallery.  He wrote an article about the flooding that I found very meaningful and I want to share it with you.

Reflections On Our Flooding
by Victor Issa

In some parts of the Front Range, life is returning to semi normal. At home and at the studio, we were only affected by temporary road closures, delayed work and delayed deliveries.

Yet others were stranded, placing them in great danger, losing property, and some did lose their lives. Some reports have documented the loss or damage to over 18,000 homes, and up to 8 lives have been lost due to this enormously destructive storm. All loss brings pain and sadness, and we join our prayers with others for all those suffering at this time.

While I am deeply grateful that the flooding had little effect on us, I must admit a discomfort at the tendency to offer a blanket: "Thank God" for such outcomes. Before you become angry or dismiss my comment, please read on. I believe this is an important matter.

My knowledge of, and faith in God has never been deeper or stronger in my life. I know beyond a doubt that God is intimately interested in me, and cares about my entire being as He does about all His created beings. What concerns me is this. If I am so quick to thank God for preserving and protecting me and my property, wouldn't I become as likely to blame Him for not protecting my friends and neighbors, those who experienced great loss? If He is to be attributed credit for the good, doesn't that also leave Him open for blame? Is this where the expression "Acts of God" came from? For example, where does the credit or blame lie when we make conscious or unconscious choices regarding the risks we chose to take?

The facts are always a bit more complex and nuanced for a simple reason; they involve humans with free will. We are always making choices, taking in as many factors as possible based on our own life experiences and on what we learn from the experiences of others. Those choices bear fruit. And even then, there are events that apparently occur completely out of the realm of our choices, with blessed or harmful outcomes.

We speak of God as Love, which is completely true. But love cannot exist in the absence of free will. And when free will is involved, unlimited variables enter the picture. While this is a HUGE risk for God, it was the only way He/Love can operate.

So where do these disasters come from, and why do they affect some but not all?

The answer is multi faceted. To begin with, I believe this is a "broken" world. It is not what God created or what He intended. It "broke" when His creation exercised their free will and explored rebellion. The long term plan includes redemption and repair on all levels. But in the meantime, humans are still involved and in charge on a daily basis making billions of decisions that affect their own lives and the lives of others on this planet.

While God is all powerful, His power is limited. There are things He can never do. He cannot lie. He cannot control my will without my consent. And He cannot force me to love Him. This is the ultimate beauty of God. He makes room for me to think, to be, to chose and to love. I can see destruction caused by a broken world (including the natural world) and I can understand that He is faithful to whom He is, Loving enough to take the biggest risk of all, risking the universe over the principle of Love that cannot be stopped or changed.

There is no denying that God has and does intervene directly into events that are actually miraculous. We don't always understand what is behind the inexplicable, but I have learned that trusting in, and surrendering to God (after we have made the most informed choices) can reap great rewards even in the presence of great disasters. (All things work together for good...)

There will come a time when destruction, death and disease will end. He will say: "It is enough!" The greater purpose of vindicating the Character and Nature of God against the accusations of the fallen angel will be fulfilled. This fallen angel, who introduced the rebellion through his pride and his choices, will be convicted and destroyed along with those who chose to believe him. Then this planet will be recreated as originally intended, and never shall the universe be visited by rebellion again, for its fruit has been completely revealed to be nothing but destructive.

My part moving forward? Seek a closer, more honest walk with God, relieve suffering where it visits my world, and continue to grow in faith, grace, gratitude, compassion and love. And I chose to live daily with the hope of the complete restoration of all things, and an eternity in close relations with God, and with all who seek the same.

Wishing you peace in your hearts, and a deeper glimpse into God's heart of Love through all things.

Victor Issa
September 21, 2013

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