A few weeks ago our twenty-two year old air conditioning unit decided it no longer wanted to function. As you may recall, this perfectly coincided with the worst heat wave our region had seen all summer, so the timing was impeccable. As is the case in Virginia in July, the heat was oppressive. But even worse was the stifling humidity.
My husband and I decided to rough it out in the 100-degree temperatures by camping in the basement for a few days. While it certainly wasn’t convenient, we’ve endured worse things in life. It reminded me how lucky we are to have this luxury. However, we were a bit concerned about our pets, particularly my cat, Bella.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bella, she is beautiful (and she knows it) with long black hair, golden eyes and a bushy tail. She has an opinion about everything, and typically that opinion is downright rude. I’m pretty sure she hates most people she meets and is a perfect example of why most people hate cats.
I love her.
During the heat wave, that beautiful black fur was clearly adding to Bella’s misery, as she lay sprawled across her favorite chair melting. After a while she’d move to the bathroom sink, then lay beside the vents hoping for a breeze. She looked a bit rough, but her daily routine of lounging lazily and being superior to the rest of us was pretty much intact. So she didn’t exactly hate life.
But then the HVAC people came. A moment that brought me pure bliss sent Bella into a tailspin, as she lost her ever-loving mind. “Who are these people? What are those noises? Ah, the smells! Get out of my house!” Ears tucked. Tail up. The panic was palpable as she tried every possible hiding place to avoid the disruption to her world.
Naturally, I did what I always do in these situationsI tried to reason with her. As you can imagine, this went about as well as all other conversations I have had with my cat. “Bella, please let the vet stick this needle into you. It’s totally fine, and I swear you’ll thank me later when you don’t have rabies.” In the end, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic about her ability to understand this situation.
As I tried to explain the abstract concept of air conditioning to this scared little furball, I realized that this is probably exactly the way God feels when interacting with humans. Just like a cat, we think we should be in control of our lives. And as the smartest beings, we totally get God. Yet why shouldn’t we believe that an omniscient God would be operating in ways that we simply cannot fathom?
There is a popular Christian song right now with the lyric, “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.” How often has this been the case, yet we’ll never know it? Once the air conditioner was working, Bella didn’t look at me and say, “Wow, thanks master servant, you really knew what you were talking about.” No. She still hated me for the disruption to her life.
Yet, little by little, the air around her started to shift. Honestly, she probably didn’t even notice at first, nor did she have any concept as to why it was happening. However, she eventually stuck her whole head down a vent hole and basked in the glory of the cold air.
God is speaking to us all the time, and God is working for good all the time. When things aren’t going well, we so often want it to be fixed and think we know best. “Stop the chaos, God! Get rid of the HVAC guys! Please save me from this.”
Trust me when I tell you, in no way do I believe God is responsible for all suffering. Negative circumstances stem from our own poor decisions, the irresponsible decisions of others or natural evil. However, I do believe that it is very possible that God is working through the chaos in ways we will never comprehend. And maybe, just maybe, there are times when God is simply trying to fix our air conditioning, and things get a little messy and disruptive before they get better.