Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Recharge ~ Elective... God of the Car Park

Second Elective, another by Stan Fetting. I enjoyed his first elective, and the conversational direction he took with it. God of the Car Park sounded intriguing as the following blurb demonstrates.

Whilst people in the 3rd world are dying of hunger and are praying to stay alive till morning, we are praying for car park spaces. Western comforts have reduced our vision of prayer and destiny and reduced God into a genie for our laziness. This elective invites us to upsize our view of God.

I’m always up for ‘upsizing’ my view of God so here are my thoughts.

A bit of a lead in first, Stan started the discussion off with the following story. (well my memory of the story)

-All around the world these events happen at the same time. Julia is in Brisbane, she’s 19 years old and driving into the Chermside Shopping Centre car park at around 8pm. Suddenly she starts praying to God with as much passion and faith that she can muster, because she has a situation that needs prayer.

At the exact same time Sara is waking up and getting her brothers and sisters ready for school. She is in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, and she spent all last night making some little craft items to take and sell at the now illegal market place just outside of town. She needs to make these sales to help feed her siblings, whom she looks after now that both her parents have died from AIDS. Sara is only 16. Before she leaves, she kneels and prays to God, please help me sell my items today, please don’t let me get arrested by President Mugabe’s police because he has tried to stop us from making money. Please keep my brothers and sisters safe while I have to leave them alone.

Back in Australia, in a Western Australian Aboriginal community, Lisa is sitting on her back porch. The ambulance has just left, taking her mother to hospital. Her father came home tonight, after going to a secret binge party. Lisa hid while her father beat her mother until some of the elders came and pulled him out of the house. The ambulance picks mother up, but her father has just returned inside and though Lisa has gotten use to the beatings, tonight her father seems even more violent. In fear she cries out to God to help her survive the night safely.

In a remote refugee camp in Somalia, Wilfred is standing in line. He’s been there for 2 hours already, and there are still so many people in front of him. But today may be the day. Today he might get to the front of the line and find out his name is on the list, the list of families granted asylum in a foreign country. Wilfred has heard Australia is a good place, and that is his first choice, but anywhere away from the war and hunger, anywhere where his 3 children can grow up safe will be fine. Wilfred stands in line and prays his name is on the list, he prays that God will save his family from all the troubles of his country.

Back to Julia, she’s still driving her 2002 model Hyundai Accent through the car park, and praying hard. You see she heard at church last Sunday that God wants to be part of every aspect of our lives, and tonight is Thursday. She’s meeting some friends for a quick dinner before heading to see a movie, and she’s a touch late. So she prays… Please God, give me a car park close to the entrance, I don’t like walking much anyway, and I’m already late. Please let there be a park, near Myers would be best, cause that’s close to the food-court… As she turns the corner she sees a white Magna reversing out of a parking spot, about 6 away from the door. “THANK YOU God!” she exclaims, waits for the space to clear, parks and walks in to meet her friends.

I think from the whole weekend, this elective was the one I took the most from. That story tugged at a certain part of my heart. I realised that we take a fair bit for granted, and in the context of the story, I class Julia’s request as insulting, considering the prayers others were speaking to God at the same time.

The church in the West has it too good. We have our houses, grocery stores, cars, money, air-conditioning, and so much more. It’s made us so comfortable, and honestly looking down our street, you couldn’t tell who were believers and who weren’t. The way Christians live in Western societies today is just as materialistic, just as consumerist as everyone else.

Stan told of a prayer meeting he was at where a couple were praising God because they had finally decided what colour to paint the outside of their house, and this had been causing them much pain. People in Africa are just praying to have something over their head while they sleep.

From my time in The Gambia, I saw a lot of poverty. And coming home I felt so ashamed of how much we have, but 2 years on I see I’ve fallen back into the Western trap, the consuming, materialistic world of the West. I’m ashamed.

Why do we feel our trivial needs are so important, we ask the God of the car park to provide for us, and don’t give half a thought to those in the world who are truly in need of God’s deliverance and help.

As a conclusion (because this has become quite long), Stan mentioned he had made a pack not to ask God for a car park space. Instead of asking God to provide something he probably really doesn’t need, now he focuses on thanking God for what he already has. A car to drive to the shops, the ease of a shopping centre, freedom to leave his home.

Man we take a lot for granted.

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