Columnists > Soul Food

He rules over all

Only God's sovereignty has the power to comfort our souls

Issue: "The politics of grace," April 25, 1998

We settled down and leaned back into the sun-I in a lawn chair and our two-year-old daughter in her potty chair, which had many uses, excepting the one for which it was designed. From our second-floor balcony, we looked across a mountain valley. Juniper and piñon trees filled the foreground. The air was drenched with pine scent. The sky was brilliant blue. But what interested us were the teenagers creeping through the trees and boulders on their way to "capture the flag." We had a view of the entire battlefield. Mary, one of the adult counselors on the other team, nervously stood guard on the trail below us. In the distance we thought we could see Daddy, the camp director, slipping behind a sage brush.

Earlier, we had checked the balcony for safety, and it seemed an ideal place for Marsena and me to enjoy the day. Until, that is, she decided to rearrange for the third time. She maneuvered her chair to pass in front of me, tangled with my chair, and tripped backwards. Before I could grab her, she rolled under the railing and fell 20 feet to the ground.

I ran down and through the cabin to find Mary already bending over our daughter. Her head rested on a large rock as though it were a pillow; beneath it was a small pool of blood. Our friend begged me not to move her, but Marsena was crying and reaching for me. I put my arms around her and tried to cradle her as my husband arrived and others began to gather around her little body. My husband was crying, but my heart was frozen.

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I held her close for two hours as we drove from the Jemez mountains to the nearest hospital. There we were told she had a massive T-fracture of the skull, must be hospitalized immediately, and might require surgery.

Secretly, I had been waiting for this accident. As new parents we had some idealistic ideas-one was that accidents could be prevented. However, I feared it was not possible to set the kind of guard over our children that would control chance. I was also afraid that when "chance time" came, that evil moment when I was off my guard, it would be my fault for having lost control of life. Then what would I do with myself? What punishment would be suitable for such failure?

Even as our daughter miraculously recovered before our eyes, I couldn't seem to get over the sorrow and regret. My unworthiness as a mother was always with me.

Questions haunted me. What if I fail at some point so obvious even a moron would get it-like checking the rail to be sure a little body couldn't fit underneath? What if I had entirely done my duty and still someone was injured, hurt, or went to hell? And worse: What if by my sin another's life was hurt-especially my own child?

The answers to these questions are bound to the understanding of God's sovereignty-not that we will ever fully understand. James Montgomery Boice points out in Foundations of the Christian Faith: "God has absolute authority and rule over his creation." All that exists-from quasars and stars to babies and birds-lives within the boundaries of Christ's particular care. That includes both the human will and actions.

God is not subject to chance. He is Lord of it. You can build a fortress and God can break in or out. You can live on the San Andreas fault and God can heal it. You can be on a collision course with a semi and God can float you past. Or he may not. Our children fall into this realm like everything else. They may be reclaimed by God at any time. We have them for a day, a lifetime, or perhaps not at all. It is not our obsessive protection of them that keeps them safe in our arms. It is not chance encounters that harm or injure them. It is God's providential care that keeps their lives. Although sin may grieve and injure, Mr. Boice points out, "God permits sin for his own reasons, knowing in advance that he will bring sin to judgment in the day of his wrath and that in the meantime it will not go beyond the bounds that he has fixed for it."

God's sovereignty finally secured and comforted me to the depths of my parental soul. I have learned to praise the living God, saying: "Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.... You are the ruler of all things" (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).


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