Letters to My Kids

The Washington Monument

Something has been bugging me lately…I’ve been hearing quite a few people ask me why God allows bad things to happen. How in the world can an all-powerful God who loves us allow life to be such crap sometimes? (no, this isn’t brought on by my recent bout with flu, but it’s hardly an antithesis)
I know all the standard replies…God loves us, but He doesn’t control us, so other people can make bad choices that hurt us…or maybe it’s a result of us not making the right choices, and God doesn’t take away consequences…or maybe we just don’t have enough Faith and God is trying to make us better people.
They all have an element of truth in it (huge pun there that you may get in a bit here), but I’ve had something else strike me recently. And it came in the form of the Washington Monument. (Don’t worry, I’m speaking metaphorically, I didn’t actually get hit in the face by a piece of weighty American History.)
Did you know that the Washington Monument isn’t made entirely of stone?  Did you know that the cap of the monument is made of pure aluminum? As in the stuff that we use to wrap up our food before we stick it in the oven? Even more strangely, did you know that Aluminum was more valuable than gold at the time the Washington Monument was built? (click for details!)
True story.
The obvious question is WHY.  Why was aluminum so valued, when we use it and throw it away now? You have to admit, it’s pretty…but it’s also common. The reason aluminum was so valued was that it was hard to make pure. Aluminum ore was easy to get your hands on, but the process of taking a rock with some aluminum in it and making a block of pure aluminum was difficult and expensive.
The reason aluminum was valuable was that you had to work to get it just right. (obvious spiritual metaphor enters the scene)
But because I don’t like leaving even obvious corollaries unsaid…here goes nothing.
Maybe there’s evil in the world partly because God could make right behavior easy…but it’s more valuable if we have to fight for it. We all know from personal experience what happened to that wonderful cap of expensive aluminum on the Washington Monument…aluminum became easy to get…and it became cheap. Shiny…but mostly worthless.
Who would really be all that irritated if someone stole a wad of aluminum foil? Probably not so much.
So here’s my thought. Belief in God is cheap. The bible says that even demons believe. But right behavior isn’t cheap. Obeying God in the face of evil in the world is hard. Trusting in God no matter your circumstances is hard. It takes work, it takes time, and it takes a deliberate Faith.
There’s a quote from a movie that I like watching…based around a guy who turns his world upside down by “letting that which does not matter truly slide.”
So here’s my question: Does evil in the world matter in the long run? If we can agree that evil in the world is a product of sin, which God hates…it shouldn’t change our opinion of Him. Our life shouldn’t be about trying to fix this world, but bringing ourselves as close to Him as we can, and dragging as many people along with us as possible.
Evil in the world makes truth, light, and right that much more valuable. Righteousness is worth something not just because it’s good…but also because it’s not evil. It’s in direct contrast against everything we see, so we cling to it.
So go and do good today in the face of evil…because it’s hard…but it’s the right thing to do.

One thought on “The Washington Monument

  1. Ooh, I LOVE this metaphor. This paragraph really spoke to me: "So here's my thought. Belief in God is cheap. The bible says that even demons believe. But right behavior isn't cheap. Obeying God in the face of evil in the world is hard. Trusting in God no matter your circumstances is hard. It takes work, it takes time, and it takes a deliberate Faith." It IS hard work to trust in Him even when it's hard to do, but it IS worth it. Thanks for sharing! (PS – I just now had a chance to visit you from the GEPC study and I'm really glad I did.)

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