(Note: The characters in this series are fictional, but their experiences are based on true life stories.)
"Mum," Mark said, gearing up to ask a hard question, "My Sunday School teacher said that God has a plan for all of us. Did God plan for you and Dad to divorce?"
Muriel wasn’t sure how to answer, but she decided to share her own uncertainty instead of making up an answer. "I don’t know if God has a plan for all of us, so I don’t know if God planned the divorce. When I listen to Pastor Mike’s sermons, he makes it sound more like we do all the choosing and trying our best, and God is there to pick us up when we fall down.
Mark was quick with the next question. "So how did God pick you up when you fell down? I mean, when you decided you didn’t want to be with Dad anymore?"
Muriel thought for a moment. "I’m not sure, but I think that God got this church going here a long time ago knowing that someday I would need it. I think that God picked me up through all the people that come together in our church…" (She’d never called it "our" church before!) "…all the people in our church who have been there for us."
"So did God pick me up through all the people in the hospital when I had my accident?" Mark asked.
"You’re asking some hard questions, Mark. I guess that would make sense."
"So, is the hospital a church?"
"Well… no." Muriel was struggling find the right mental picture. "I guess God doesn’t need a church, just people. But maybe a church helps us to remember that God is there. If it weren’t for your Sunday school teacher, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, and maybe we wouldn’t have thought about how God uses people everywhere."
"Why doesn’t God just do it himself?"
Muriel sat in thought for a long time. "If I always did everything for you, Mark, you would never learn how to do anything. If God always did everything for us, we would be helpless basket cases. When you had your accident, I couldn’t fix your injuries, but I could still love you. If God fixed everyone up in a flash, I think no one would care about anything anymore, because it wouldn’t matter because we would all know that God will just fix it.
Maybe God is teaching us how to love each other by putting us in a world where there is trouble."
Mark sat stunned at his mother’s sudden outburst of insight. For the first time he didn’t know what to say. Finally he asked, "Did you get all that from Pastor Mike’s sermons?"
"No, but I think I’ll run it by him to see what he thinks."
"I think he’ll say you’re right," Mark offered, as he gave his mother a hug.
Material prepared by Rev. Curtis Aguirre, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Nanaimo, B.C. and provided courtesy of Canada Lutheran.