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10th January, 2011

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Who does he think he is, anyway?

A local life insurance ad tries to scare listeners into buying their product by assuring us that, "Death happens often". Leaving aside the dubious semantics of the statement, it does underscore a stark reality of life - you don't know when your time will come. Just two days ago this harsh reality struck an as-yet-unknown number of people living in and around the Queensland city of Toowoomba. At about one o'clock in the afternoon what has been described as "an inland tsunami" unexpectedly slashed through the heart of the city's CBD sweeping away an unknown number of cars and their occupants. (My own daughter-in-law and two grandchildren were in their car only minutes away from the scene of chaos; it took them over an hour to drive a couple of kilometers home.) In spite of the torrential rains that had been falling for some time over a wide area, leading to what may prove to be Australia's greatest ever natural disaster (developing as I write), nobody could have predicted this freak event.1 Toowoomba is on the top of a mountain range and one of the last places on earth you would expect catastrophic flooding. The official death toll stands at ten, with over ninety people missing.

None of those who perished would have believed it if you told them that morning that they would be dead before sunset as a result of a flash flood. But that's the nature of life, as Eliphaz told Job:

If God cannot trust his own messengers. how much less men made of dust, who are crushed to death as easily as moths. They are alive in the morning, but by evening they are dead, gone forever with hardly a thought from anyone (Job 4:18-20, Living Bible Translation).

But I ask, just who does God think He is, creating us mortal?

For dust you are, and to dust you shall return (Gen. 3:19).

That's pretty unfair, isn't it? And then to make matters worse, God has on occasion intervened to exterminate thousands of people:

Therefore deliver up their children to the famine, and pour out their blood by the force of the sword; let their wives become widows and bereaved of their children. Let their men be put to death, their young men be slain by the sword in battle (Jer. 18:21).

Millions of people:

So the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them" (Gen. 6:7).

Death is so. well. final. We live for anywhere from a few seconds to a hundred years, and then it's all over. Unconscious, dead, turned into invertebrate food or plant fertilizer. Gone and quickly forgotten. Unless, of course, you happen to be, say, an Egyptian Pharaoh whose tomb and treasures are discovered. Then you are remembered - sort of. But for the rest of us, just a few decades after we depart, nobody will know or care.

What right do you have, God, to make us return to the dust from whence we came? How could you possibly let women and children be swept to their deaths by a raging torrent? Just who do you think you are, God?

GOD : I am your Maker, who gave you life.

P.S. See you at the Judgment.

1See "Watch how flash flood grew in minutes"


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