He Does What He Wants
Guest post by Jim Lovelady
She didn't think she would get pregnant on their honeymoon. They had planned to wait a few years, establish her career and maybe after maternity leave, she would jump back in where she left off. But she perceived a dignity in motherhood and even at that young, post-grad age made the commitment.
Years later, now a housewife with four kids, a typical Monday morning finds her fuming from the fight she and her husband had as he was leaving to catch a flight to Cleveland for business, irritated that his favorite shirt was still in the laundry. She’s scrambling to get the oldest and the twins to school on time while feeding a wild toddler before she takes him to the oncologist to have them read the results of tests that she already knows the answers to because her education has stayed with her. She already knows.
Hurrying to get out the door, her oldest, a curious one with a philosophical penchant for snark asks, "Mom, I asked the Sunday school teacher—and, um—what she thought—and um—she didn't know the—um—answer to my que—."
"What is it, dear? Get your socks on!"
He smiles with honest curiosity, "Well, um, I want to know. Can God make a rock so big that he can't lift it?"
She sighs as she lifts the crying toddler into her arms and grunts as she puts him in the car seat, "I don't know, baby, but if you boys don't get in the car right now, I'm leaving without you!"
He asks a jarring question for that context but it would be just as jarring if she paused and responded, "Now son, your question reveals the omnipotence paradox where God making a rock so big he can't lift it is a logical impossibility. Now GET. IN. THE. CAR!"
Because the question of God's omnipotence belongs in the smoky lounges of arm-chair philosophers, not on Monday morning suburban driveways on the way to school and doctor's appointments. Or does it? If our theology doesn't work here, if the omnipotence of God isn't relevant here, what good is it?
It makes logical sense that God is all-powerful. If he wasn't, then whatever was more powerful than him, well, THAT would be God. God's omnipotence is like the air we breathe, like water for a fish. It’s like gravity. It’s the underlying assumption that permeates all of life. God can do whatever he wants.
But the existence of evil in this world poses some nagging questions. If God is all-powerful, why is there marital strife? Why would he allow a promising career to be dashed before it even got started? Why would he allow cancer? Maybe he is all-powerful, but is God good?
To say "God is all-powerful,” is true but it's not comforting unless you say, "and God is good." But even this formula lacks a necessary element. Along with these two truths, broken, sinful, despairing people need to hear, "AND God is with you."
"God is all-powerful" and "God is good" only make sense if "God is with us."
These three mysterious truths are held together in Jesus Christ. John puts it this way in his Gospel, "The ‘Logic’ became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory.” Then in chapter 11, John tells a story to demonstrate how Jesus brings together the omnipotence, goodness and presence of God in raising Lazarus from the dead.
What does the all-powerful God do when his friend dies? He raises him from the dead. It is no surprise to us that the omnipotent God would act in power to raise Lazarus from the dead. That is logical—mysterious, but logical. What doesn't make sense is that right before that moment, the Almighty God wept bitterly over the death of his friend. Jesus wept. The God who became flesh groaned with creation because of the pain and suffering that sin and death had brought upon his people.
What does the all-powerful God do when his friend, the struggling housewife, is overwhelmed by the brokenness in her life? By his powerful Spirit, he rides next to her as she drives to the oncologist. He sits next to the car seat holding the toddler's hand while mommy drives. He breathes life into her lungs and brings lucidity to her mind as the doctor reads the results. As she drives home sobbing, while the baby sleeps, she cries out, "If only you had been here you could have done something about this!"
And we find the Almighty Jesus weeping with her and when the moment is just right, his whisper fills the deep recesses of her anxious heart, "I Am the resurrection and the life."
Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram and Talitha. He has a deep passion for liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel. He loves to guide people on their journey of repentance that leads to the joy of their salvation and a greater intimacy with Jesus. You can find Jim online on Instagram (@Jim_Lovelady) or at his website (www.jimlovelady.com). To learn more about how you can partner with Jim in his ministry to burned out pastors and missionaries, go to https://give.serge.org/donate/jim-lovelady/.