The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

“C’mon, God!” I was leaning over my desk and opening the window blinds. I wanted to open the side windows. I hadn’t done this for a while but the bee –and I’m talking a Hercules plane type bee, a low buzzing bee, flying around my study –wasn’t obeying me when I told it that the doorway and freedom was behind it. As I pulled back the blinds the bee was inspecting the bottom shelf books (history and Lutheran Church of Australia books) and so I opened the win-dow adjacent to the bookcase. The bee promptly flew to the other side of the study presuma-bly to check out worship and education books or to do some acrobatic flying around all the document containers. “C’mon, God!” I said as I opened the window on that side. I looked down to spot the bee and watched it gracefully, slowly, still that low buzzing sound, fly straight out the open window. ‘Thank you, God!”

And I chuckled because in my head I recalled, heard, thought –I don’t know –the verses from Jesus about the sparrows and the flowers of the field and how God cares for them and so he will care for me too. The world can look at me and shake its head! “Mad”, they may mutter. Coincidence. Air flow sensitivity. Some other explanation but nothing spiritual or divine. We’ll never know specifically why the bee flew to freedom. And that’s probably true.

However the world’s criticism, I think, is more that I made a link between something natural and God; that I found meaning and a chuckle and even a comfort and inspiration in something natural. But it is all in my head. I did the ‘God-thing’ to myself. And there is truth there. The bee flew into the room. I wanted it out for its sake. I opened windows and it flew out and I said, ‘Thank you, God’. The incident squares with my understanding of God.

But what if it didn’t fly out? What if it refused all attempts at freedom and days later I found it dead on the windowsill? What happens when your God doesn’t help as you want? What hap-pens when your God doesn’t fit with your job description of him? Then a lot of people choose to not believe in that God. And they may then choose to reject things spiritual or choose to follow another deity or philosophy or human world view. This happens because humanity wants God to be of use to us. Deep down, we have a utilitarian perspective on God and if he isn’t helpful for us then what’s the point? ‘Useful’ for us generally translates into helping us as we want, protecting our loved ones, and giving us ‘breaks’. That God might be behind or allow trouble, pain, suffering –and not help –is a terrifying thought.

Yes, the bee flew out of the window. Yes, I recalled some Bible verses. Yes, I chuckled and felt a momentary sense that God knows what he’s doing in my life and that in the big scheme of things, he does care and I can trust him. But this isn’t the magic carpet through life but the promise of the presence of a God with pierced hands and feet. My life (behaviour) is very much my choice but the story in the Bible of a God who suffers for his people and suffers with his people leads me to have meaning and purpose in this world –not because bees might (or might not) fly out of windows but because Jesus died on a cross and was raised to life again. That deed and who Jesus is shape how I can view the world and live each day. GS