So far, 2011 is shaping up as one of the deadliest in recent history for Yosemite National Park. Yosemite usually sees five or six deaths by the end of July, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. This year, there have been 14. The number also accounts for incidents that occur in the park, such as heart attacks, car accidents and deaths attributed to natural causes.
I mean no disrespect to any of the families that lost a loved one due to one of these incidents but I can’t help but comment on those deaths that occurred because someone moved beyond a safety barrier and simply got too close to a dangerous situation.
Yesterday I caught a portion of a news show that sent a reporter to Yosemite to investigate what’s been going on. At one point she asked the park ranger why they didn’t do more to warn people of the danger. He pointed out that they have signs, barriers and extra notices posted referring to those who have already lost their lives there this summer.
One woman slipped on wet granite, due to a thunderstorm, while descending a particular rock trail and it proved to be fatal. When asked why they didn’t close the trail or force people to not hike in those conditions the park ranger explained that they knew the storm was coming and advised people to stay off that trail but they leave the final decision to the park visitors.
We do the same thing with God. We knowing cross a boundary that He has set in place and when something unpleasant happens we get angry and ask why God didn’t prevent it. It’s called “free will.” Without it we would all be nothing but puppets. With it we are left to consider God’s safety barriers and make our own decisions.
Staying on “this side” of the safety barrier is no guarantee that all will be well. Sometimes others cross the boundaries and we are caught up in the ripple effects; and sometimes bad things happen simply because we live in a fallen world.
But it’s inappropriate for us to knowingly cross a boundary and then get upset at God or someone else when we experience a negative consequence. Free will is a gift and God’s boundaries are there not to keep us from having fun but to keep us safe and able to enjoy all of life.