If you read the small print on contracts, no one is liable for "Acts of God." "Acts of God" are disasters beyond human control, like storms, floods, lightning, and (some would argue) protracted visits from uninvited relatives. I find it fascinating that in such contracts God takes the rap for everything that goes wrong, and rarely receives credit for the good things that go right.
As I see it, God has done a lot of pretty cool stuff far more significant than knocking trees over. God put all the trees here in the first place, bringing many billions of people immense pleasure and benefit from their oxygen, shade, fruit, wood, and verdant splendor. And what about this morning’s stunning sunrise? That was a phenomenal Act of God. Or your dog greeting you with such joy upon your arrival home that you are tempted to go out and come home again just to savor the wildly appreciative look on his face. And let’s not forget about a good power nap, wickedly sweet New York cheesecake, or a deep massage after a long plane ride. Study your child’s finger-painting magnetized to your refrigerator door, and there you will behold an Act of God. They are pretty much everywhere, if you just look.
We all have moments in our lives when God shows up with an extraordinarily enthralling act. Those experiences lift us beyond the mundane and make life worthwhile. In the thought-provoking film After Life, we meet a group of people who have just died, and arrive at a processing station at the entrance to eternity. As they receive their orientation, they are asked to recall the favorite memory of their lifetime. When they report their choice, they will be dispatched to live in the experience of that moment forever.
Take a moment now to consider what memory you would like to live in forever. It’s quite an exercise! The day you scored the game-winning touchdown, or performed a song or dance that brought the house down? Was it the first time you fell in love? Your most passionate orgasm? The moment you looked into your newborn’s eyes?
Whatever your choice, in that moment you were very close to God, perhaps closer than most or all other moments in your life. That God was not one of disaster, wrath or damnation, but one of utter joy, fulfillment, and absolute exhilaration. At that moment you were right in the middle of an Act of God.
The world can be a screwy place, with values, truths, and priorities that deny or overlook our true purpose. A Course in Miracles tells us that the unnatural world we have created by twisted thinking is exactly the opposite of the world God created for us to enjoy. So if you want to figure out what’s true, take just about everything you’ve been taught about your purpose here, and turn it upside down. As Tom Stoppard noted, "It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong!"
God is not the source of our troubles. People have created far more pain, loss, suffering and disaster than God ever has. God sprinkles the planet with an occasional earthquake or tornado, but people hurt each other daily. Terribly. Even worse, we hurt ourselves with harsh criticism and psychic self-flagellation. Not because we mean to. We just forgot that God wants us to be happy. If we remembered more of who we truly are, we’d all be having a lot more fun.
When you think about it, Acts of God often bring out the best in people. In the wake of an earthquake or tsunami, for example, people show up to help each other in huge ways. Hearts are opened and millions of people rush to give money, clothing, food, shelter, love, and all kinds of aid to those directly affected by the disaster. Now there’s an Act of God.
I realize I may be going out on a limb mentioning God so much in this article. Because people have been brainwashed to associate God with disaster, pain, suffering and punishment, lots of people do not want to hear or use the word "God." That’s understandable. But here might be a poignant moment to remember that the word "God" is a derivative of the word "Good." If we remember that the nature of God is good, we might not get so upset to talk about it.
Sure, some stuff goes wrong. Disasters happen, dreams turf, and everyone experiences some pain. But a lot more stuff goes right. In fact, most things go right most of the time. Maybe it’s time to listen less to the news and more to your heart. If what you read or hear on the news were accurate, we and the world would have been extinguished a long time ago. But here we are, and in spite of the scary prognostications that abound, I expect we and the earth will be around for quite a while.
Life is an Act of God. Wherever anyone lives or loves, God is acting. And that is the one Act that can never be relegated to small print.