Decatur resident and good guy Barney Williamson wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Messenger last week. Barney had fallen in a parking lot of the Decatur Post Office and was almost was run over by a car that was backing up. As he wrote, "The back end of her car moved directly over my head. I was looking up at the bottom of her car. I couldn’t roll out of the way, and there was no way I could push myself away from the car." But a man, who he does not know and cannot identify, got the attention of the driver and stopped a possible catastrophe. But what got my attention was this from Barney: "I have prayed many times in the past 24 hours. I have thanked God for His intervention, for permitting me to live a little longer. I thank God for those people, for THAT MAN. I wish I knew his name. I wish I could tell him personally how truly thankful I am." This got me thinking about God's intervention. I guess in Barney's scenario he (and perhaps most) believe that God stepped in and put the mystery man in a position to save Barney's life. But to believe that also means that you believe God had no role whatsoever in placing Barney in the parking lot at that moment, in that piece of ice being on the sidewalk, in Barney slipping on that ice, or Barney being alone when he fell. It's as if God is generally "hands off", letting the world go in its own natural course, but only intervenes when he sees fit. Which gives rise to some troubling questions when we read about accidental deaths (like the one Barney avoided). In those situations, did God choose not act? Did he see a tragic death about to occur but simply didn't intercede? And the converse question must also be asked: Does God ever set the wheels in motion for the "accidental" death to occur? I think about stuff like this a lot.
at 11:00 AM