12/02/2009

Prompting dilemmas

Yesterday afternoon I had tea with a friend and then went to a shopping center at County Road C and Snelling to Once Upon a Child to sell size 5 boy clothes. I went back to my car, pulled out of my spot and thought, "Which way shall I exit the shopping center?" I used to work on C-2 so I sometimes drive out of my way north to that road to make an easy right-hand turn onto Snelling, an easy shot home. It is more direct, however, and shorter, to take the frontage road to the stoplight and turn left onto C and then right onto Snelling. Last time that way was full of traffic, but it was earlier, about 4 pm, and still light. I paused a moment, sitting there, and then drove out of my way, north to C-2 and onto Snelling.

A few hours later my mother-in-law called and breathlessly said to me, "Where is everybody?"

"We are all sitting down at dinner," I replied. "Why?"

She told me of a seven car pileup at the intersection of C and Snelling (she had just returned from the grocery store there) with fatalities, and she knew I was planning to go there sometime during the day. She said the accident was at 4 pm and I said, "I was just through that intersection at 4. I must have just missed it."

Kelly and I have had several near misses the last few days.

A few hours later I checked my facebook page and saw that two women I know were planning to drive through that intersection at 4 and were late or made a stop instead. We started musing about it all when I decided to check the news report. I learned there the accident wasn't just at the intersection. Someone had a "major medical event" and plowed a mini-van into a line of cars on the east-bound lane of County Road C waiting at the Snelling light. One woman died, one is critically injured, and seven cars were involved. This happened about 4 pm.

That is the road I decided not to take yesterday afternoon, that little stretch of road going eastbound to Snelling on County Road C. At 4 pm.

So a prayer of thanks goes up for another near miss (how many do we have each day?) and a prayer for all those injured or grieving because of that accident. But here is my dilemma:

How did I know to go to other way? or was it a lucky guess?

I teach people in Covenant Discipleship to pay attention to spiritual promptings, and it seems to me that the more we pay attention to them the more we get. They are often things like, "Call so and so" and then you find out they were thinking of you or needed a call right then or things like that. Or a prompting is a suggestion (by the Holy Spirit) to do this instead of that. A little dose of spiritual wisdom and a nudge from God to do the right thing.

But does God send us nudges to go this way or that when someone is having a major medical event and may careen into our old vehicle, trapped in rush hour traffic on a suburban road?

Theologically this does not make sense to me. But it is how I experience the world. I always know before I have an accident, I mean hours beforehand. Kelly does too. I always know whom I will marry the moment I meet them (well, both times that happened.)

Theologically there is a problem here because I can't imagine God goes around saving some people and not others. So do some of us get the message and others not? (Some might argue salvation is like that. But I don't buy it.) I don't think God is that involved in the little and large details of our lives ("here's a parking space. Don't take that road.) And yet I have these experiences, often enough that I can't ignore them.

Just yesterday afternoon Kelly and I were musing over this sort of thing. He had an event (I should let him tell it) of knowing something just before it happened, an odd but not useful happening. We joked about how this happens to us -- like we see or hear something before it actually happens -- but it never includes stock tips.

But premonitions now, we have those. So does God send us little notes and nudges all day long? Or does time bend? Or is this all the same thing? Is this all just random free will that we read meaning into later?

And what words of comfort are there for all those who are caught in the wrong lane of traffic, and how will I feel if I don't get the warning first sometime?

3 comments:

Kurt Johnson said...

Good things to muse about - a bit. But, there is no answer - it's one of those mysteries of life that we have no choice but to account for in our faith. The danger is, and it happens, where a person gets lost in the fact they had a "near miss". It's at those times I keep to the big picture - God loves us, has a purpose for us, and when it is time, He will call for us. Within that statement, we do have free will regarding the purpose - God opens doors - do we step through? How many of us are now doing what we thought we would be doing when we were 17, or living the way we thought we would when we were 17? If you had told me then I'd have 4 kids, and a 15 year history with,of all things, leading a church camp (I was a very shy kid back then), I would have laughed and not believed it. Well, guess what......

In your comments about nudges, and how much free will there is, etc., I thought immediately of the passages below from Ecclesiastes.

Excerpts From Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

6a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

Pastor Amanda said...

This is really, really interesting and something I struggle with too. I agree we get nudges, and the more able we are to be open to them, the more clear they may be.

Sunshine said...

"when it is time, He (or She?) will call for us"
I've seen too much death to blame God for it.
This I believe: God is with us.