Where Theories Give Way to Reality (#596)

Why do prayers for rain in Pokot go unanswered for tens of thousands of people starving in a severe drought, while God seems to change the weather for two Americans hiking through Norway? That provocative question rises out of an earlier podcast starts Brad and Wayne on a conversation about sorting through the ways God works in our world, and why he rarely does the things we think love would compel him to do. They talk about the inherent conflict such questions provide, and how it is tat we move from theories about the way God works, to actually discovering how he is working in and around us. How do we follow God with some degree of freedom, knowing that his thoughts are way higher than our own?

Podcast Notes:
Helping with Agriculture in Pokot
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  1. I’m amazed at the weird thinking – assuming that God controls the weather when the natural cycles of the earth aggravated by the effects of global warming are the determinant factors. The idea that God sits on high manipulating the planet’s events according to some divine prerogative or to various prayers of its people insults God who has given the world to us all to nurture and manage.

  2. John Marcon
    8/25/2017 at 4:18 pm , Reply
    I’m amazed at the weird thinking – assuming that God controls the weather when the natural cycles of the earth aggravated by the effects of global warming are the determinant factors. The idea that God sits on high manipulating the planet’s events according to some divine prerogative or to various prayers of its people insults God who has given the world to us all to nurture and manage.

    • … and Jesus speaking to the storm and telling it to “Be Still” — and it does. And then He tells us that “the works he does, we shall do and greater works than these because he goes to the Father, and whatever we ask in His name, He will do, that the Father might be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it…” etc. (John 14:12-14) — and somehow asking God to take care of a couple of boys in a storm and the storm actually dissipates in an unexpected way… Believing that God just might actually do something — that is weird and insulting to Him?… Not sure I would agree with that, and just relegate God to some deistic distance like an ancient watch maker who winds it up and then just turns everything over to natural cycles and natural cycles ‘only’… Why did Jesus speak to the storm? Why record it in the Bible? Why suggest we would do things similar to Him? Not sure I see where the perspective of inactivity comes into all that, or that it is an insult to Him to think otherwise. Is there something amiss in asking Him to intervene? That’s not some air tight theology or defense for “weather miracles” –but I don’t see why we would assume that such things are off limits or that God would not care, nor welcome our prayer inviting Him into things of our concern. Aren’t we invited to take those concerns to the Lord? I’m a little hesitant to think that any of us have God all figured out, so much so that we can definitively say He does these things, but not or never “those”, and that it is insulting to presume He might on occasion take action beyond just the natural cycles.

  3. I agree with Brad that it is dangerous to say that Father can’t be this or that because ‘I don’t like it’, however to shut down anyone who happens to believe that hell is not the physical place that orthodox doctrine has stipulated it is, is a big statement!

    I happen to not believe in a physical place of torment, or eternal punishment, but not because it’s ‘yucky’ I happen to have been led down a road where I take all orthodox teachings with a pinch of salt, and read the Bible and. chat with Father for myself what this or that means!
    I happen to have arrived at a different conclusion to the catholic scholars in AD300.

    While I get your point Brad, everyone’s view of what Father is and what will happen in the future is a very personal thing.

    Apart from the truth that Father loves me, and he wants an adult friendship with me, most other ‘doctrines’ or views are up for grabs. We will all find out one day, and then in won’t matter any more….

  4. I get the question, really do. Keep asking, it’s okay! Personally, I have been moved further away from there these days. God himself is best left to do the God-splaining; even with his Spirit within, these glasses are still pretty dark most of the time. Perhaps it’s our old nature which pricks us into seeking an answer which may better fit within the branches of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil? I no longer feel the need to justify or diminish God’s purposes or abilities, etc., to myself or others. When I am impressed to pray for someone or something I do, then I go about the day to see how he will unfold it. Imagine for a second that question gets answered, then what? Could I truly comprehend without judging through the lens of good and evil? I was fired once, and for a year I asked God, “Who was right?” After a year of squirming and toiling for an answer, to my heart he said, “What you are asking me is who is good and who is evil; that is not my domain.” I was cut from it like a knife instantly. I had been seeking to establish my own rightness over theirs. So, I understand the need for an answer here; over time, and through a growth in trust towards God, those things begin to fade from one’s view. I now seek to know his heart daily, to be loved and love instead – the rest melts away – Love isn’t a side, butter is…time for popcorn!

  5. Yes there are cycles of weather. God designed the creation and the adversary messes it up. Say for example, you are camping in an area that is under a great drought and farmers are praying for rain, and maybe you aren’t aware of the farmers plight and you pray that it doesn’t rain because you are camping? Sometimes we don’t know all the situations going on at one time. I know God does answer prayers in regards to weather, I have seen it happen many times and in miraculous ways. God is not a distant God, we just have to remember he is God.

  6. To hear Brad’s comments regarding the young folk and their increasingly intimate relationship with the Lord in even the simple things of life is really wonderful. Over the years I have learned to invite the Lord Jesus into all aspects of my everyday life, my family life and my work life – the simple things as well as the more complex situations. He is my Father as well as my closest friend, to walk with Him and to talk with Him is the greatest blessing any person can ever have. It is such an incredible journey.
    Surely we have a God who is too big to put in a box. For He does as He pleases in heaven as well as on the earth in the seas and all their depths. He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; He sends lighting with the rain and brings out the wind Ps: 135:6-7
    For He makes His sun to rise on evil and good, and he sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous Matt.5:45
    In all this Job did not sin by charging God with wrong doing Job 1:22
    Who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been His counsellor.
    I have had both the sun and the rain, and often felt that the Lord could have managed some of the situations I found myself in differently, but looking back over many years, I would not change anything. Gods word stands firm. The Lord has been most gracious and kind with me on life’s journey.

  7. I have no rhyme or reason to when God shows up to intervene in the weather, other than “trust God” that He knows best. I read the verses that present some altered meteorological reality because of someone asking for it. However, if the bible is not inerrant, then how do I know which parts to rely on, and which ones to disregard or take with a grain of salt?
    I would imagine many people prayed that hurricane Harvey would not hit Texas, but it still did. Presently, I do not have that kind of trust in God to believe that He shows up to intervene in the weather when He deems it is best for some kind of reason known to Him. At this point of my journey, it just seems to whimsical and capricious to me. But of course who am I to question; maybe I ought to take a lesson from Job. Hopefully his grace is sufficient enough to handle my cynicism.

  8. I accept Gods will for whatever happens I suppose. Do we have a choice? I still pray, I still believe, I still walk by faith.

    when there was no one big enough, strong enough or bad enough to change me….poof ! God did!! thats why I believe 🙂 and I know that I know for too many situations were not from and could not of been mans doing…… just saying!

  9. When some major prayers in my life for loved ones seemingly failed some years ago I was able to come across a couple of great books on loss and prayer by Gerry Sittser. One of these was ”When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer” – I highly recommend this book – some gems in it include – “Ironically, the frustration that unanswered prayer engenders is itself turned into a prayer. Rather than cutting us off from God unanswered prayer drives us to God”, ” It is not what God does for us that is the greatest answer to prayer but what God does in us”, ” The point of prayer is the relationship itself with God, however raw and honest, not the things we get from the relationship”, and “Prayer is part of an epic story-what seems like unanswered prayer to us does not mean unanswered prayer to God. God answers every prayer; either He gives us what we pray for, or something far better that we will appreciate in time”

  10. I’m so glad prayer is not some incarnation we can use to get our way. It’s a dance of us coming to discover God’s heart and letting him live in ours. While God do whatever he likes with the weather, messing with it often at the differing whims of humanity would mean chaos for sure. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t EVER do it or that he doesn’t want to involve us in his unfolding purpose in the world. Why is it so hard for some to see that God wants to work WITH us as agents of his in letting the reality of the kingdom come to bear on the temporal realities of this world? It seems people need all their prayers answered the way they hope, or give up entirely into fatalism. There’s so much for us to learn here in our adventure of following God and letting him take shape in us.

    Jesus seemed to want us to pray in the certainty that whatever we asked of his Father, we would receive it. But that doesn’t mean we get whatever we want. That’s the fruit of learning to remain in him and letting him remain in us. It is all a great mystery, but an intriguing one that has shaped much of my journey.

  11. In a couple of months, I am going to have a transportation issue exacerbated by my own financial foolishness, but yet I feel it is not out of the realm of possibility that God’s grace will enable a better outcome than I deserve. I don’t know why I feel this way other than I trust the promises of God. I think of the story of the Prodigal Son, who wasted his fortune, yet when he came home with his tail between his legs, he was greeted with open arms, and a party.

    About the job situation presented in the podcast, I often think about quitting and going into another line of work that I have no idea about other than what God shows me, and then the thought comes to my mind, ‘do not put God to the test.’ Yet, why shouldn’t I feel the same way about my job issue as my transportation issue? Is it my lack of trust? Is it fear? Am I more concerned with what people think, than what is best for me?

    Its not like I have a job I dread going to, with lack of benefits. it is actually a job many people would want to have. But is it truly what God wants for me, my ‘calling’? In a way, yes, I feel in my position I can touch lives, albeit in a small way, but often overwhelmed with a base that is not looking to be touched, instead trying to exploit for their own selfish benefits. Maybe I simply need to pray more about this situation, and as Wayne says, not necessarily expect what I want, but what God wants for me.

  12. Loved the final line: what if God is not like what I thought? For me that was the starting point of, “Okay, then teach me how . . . you love . . . you forgive . . . you see the people around me.” Actually, how you are my father and with that then I am your son. Oh, that is beautiful.

  13. God is at work in the lives of wealthy people, people with no money or possessions, self-reliant people and highly dependent people (along with any combination or variation of the list above) then he gives us promises that cause us to have relationship with him through the circumstances of life. Sometimes he intervenes supernaturally and sometimes nature takes its course. But always His objective is for us to come to know him as a loving father. I believe that if we will just answer Jesus’ call to follow, he will take us through a multitude of life-experiences; from seemingly small things like prayers for good weather, to very large things like the loss of a child. His objective in all these things is to bring us into a closer and more intimate relationship with himself and the Father.

    • Very awesome words James! I agree totally.

      Connecting with him as a loving Father is always the goal of any life experience!

  14. God’s GOODNESS has everything to do with the spiritual realm. The fact that He accepts us in His Son is the greatest miracle EVER! What happens to us on this planet is often our own doing or others’ poor choices. God can intervene; however, He isn’t there to come to our beck and call. Why pray, then? …to listen to His truths and wisdom as He shares His heart. We are able to function well when we are at peace with Him. If we work hard, continue to learn new skills, apply ourselves, adopt positive attitudes…life here becomes more adventuresome and successful…no matter what happens to us in the physical realm. Waiting for God to intervene may be what He commands when we listen; however, moving ahead as God’s sons with hearts filled with Him, guarantees success in the spiritual realm, regardless of what happens to us in the physical realm. The woman at the well was looking for physical water; she was actively gathering water to meet her physical needs. Jesus didn’t offer to fill her buckets necessarily; He did, however, offer her living water.
    13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”

  15. I feel compelled to talk about the situation in Houston here, with talk about the weather in the podcast, and people’s compulsion to give to the point that among the wealthy athletes and entertainers, it has almost become a contest, at least that is how the media is portraying it.

    I’m reminded of the phrase, ‘To much is given, much will be required.’ Everything is relative. If a donation means going without a meal for a day, that is a true sacrifice, though in terms of amount, it may be very little. So-and-so gives $1 million and many of us are reminded that to give that amount would take a lifetime (or more) of wages. So does that mean we are irresponsible, if we were more ambitious we would’ve made millions of dollars so that when a Houston takes place, we would be in a position to give?

    The Gospel of Luke tells of a sinful woman who anoits Jesus with an expensive jar of perfume in the home of a Pharisee, while the Pharisee failed to show any hospitality toward Him. Jesus forgives the woman of her sins, seeing her capacity to love given the sacrifice she made. In the end it is not how much money we can give to a cause however worthy, but because of God’s forgiveness of us, how much then we are able to love.

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