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Lessons from an Oil Spill

When our Eternal Enemy tempted our first ancestors to doubt God he promised, “you shall be as God.” Sadly that same alluring promise holds sway in our thinking and humanity today.


When our Eternal Enemy tempted our first ancestors to doubt God he promised, “you shall be as God.” Sadly that same alluring promise holds sway in our thinking and humanity today.

God alone is omniscient and omnipotent, all knowing and all-powerful. He alone is not limited by time and space. We, as His creation are. There are limits to our knowledge and limits on our power. It only takes a hurricane, a flood, or an oil spill to expose the reality of human limitations. Yet voices of all scream and demand that we “become like God” and fix the problem and failure to do so is criticized and punished.

Might we, as believers, resist the demand to become as God and instead in times like these embrace the reality of human limitations? Replacing God with government isn’t the solution either, though that option also tempts us. In reality, we are neither omniscient nor omnipotent.

Tragic and overwhelming circumstances such as the oil spill grieve us. Certainly all efforts should move toward relief and solutions. However, humble acknowledgement of our human limitations would serve us well. How might the outcomes have been different had we called a national day of prayer on behalf of the Gulf Coast asking God for wisdom in finding a solution to the spill?

And this problem isn’t limited to oil spills and weather. When we load our schedules with too many things; squeeze out time for worship and reflection and spend our weary days in countless activity, we are trying too frequently to “become” our own god.

Several summers ago I meditated on the admonition of Micah 6:8 to “do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” As I considered what it might mean to walk humbly I came to believe that one aspect of humility could be to acknowledge who God is and who I am as His creature and not attempt to change places. In other words, to accept my limits as a time bound creature, to live within the boundaries of humanity and release the demand that I do it all.

God provided one day in seven to remind us that there are limits to our energy and to our work and rest is His gracious gift. May you and I rest this summer season.

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Gwynne Johnson

Gwynne Johnson currently serves on the Board of Entrust, Inc., an international education and training mission where she authored the Entrust curriculum, Developing a Discerning Heart. She recently served as Co-Chair of the training project, Christian Women in Partnership, Russia and as Senior Director of Women's Ministry at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. Gwynne has a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She currently lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband of 58 years, Don. She works part-time in her daughter and granddaughter's bakery "The Best Box Ever," where she gets paid in cookies.