Ross Olson's Web Site


By Ross Olson

The incident described in the above mentioned account ("Unexpected Falls & Unseen Angels") happened on August 11, 2001. (My knee suddenly gave way due to a spontaneous tear of the muscle from the kneecap while hiking down a canyon, resulting in a fall, breaking six ribs, massive bleeding into the thigh and collapsing a lung.) It taught me that although God protects many times every day from hazards I do not even suspect, He may occasionally allow something to happen that gives me a glimpse into those ever-present dangers. This glimpse is not random however, but always infused with a purpose, sometimes to remind me of my constant need to depend on Him, perhaps to emphasize that I must not take any day for granted, or even to bring me up short if I am taking a course in life that displeases Him.

There is a spiritual battle going on around us and the stakes are more important than broken bones, blood loss and pain. In fact, the consequences are even bigger than life itself because they deal with eternal destiny. Although we mortals take a very short-term, tunnel-vision view of our circumstances, God sees the big picture from an eternal perspective. He allows things to happen that we may think to be terrible and, although God does not cause evil, yet He is able to work in those circumstances to accomplish good for each person involved.

Little did I know on August 11 that exactly one month later something would happen that made my story pale into insignificance by comparison. That, of course, is because on September 11 terrorist attacks not only killed 3000 innocent people, they also forever changed life as we know it on this planet.

As the stages of shock, disbelief and anger have progressed in our collective psyche, Americans considered the causes of this devastation and debated levels of blame to assign. Certainly the perpetrators, believing that intentional killing of civilians is praiseworthy and to be rewarded, must stand in front of the line as the most obvious culprits.

But responsibility has also been laid at the doorstep of our intelligence and security agencies for not anticipating and preventing the acts, although the conflict between freedoms we cherish and safety we crave may be irreconcilable. Others point to our foreign policy, especially support for Israel, as an incitement to retaliation by Israel's enemies. It is safe to say that all of these factors may be true to some degree, but are either not greatly amenable to change or frankly ought not be changed.

But I think there is another factor that is more basic and important in understanding what has happened and yet somehow difficult to accept or even to articulate. In this, my own small experience is a parable of the larger events that followed.

God protects us in many ways and thousands of times that we do not even realize, individually and as a nation. In fact, America has been unusually protected and blessed among nations. We may have a tendency to think that it is because we are such wonderful people, but it has not been because of any individual merit, which we may imagine for ourselves. It is God's grace that He has allowed us to live in a free country.

But with blessing comes responsibility. America was founded as a haven for religious freedom, recognizing the value of each individual life and acknowledging that the rights of every person are granted by God and cannot be arbitrarily altered by the state. Because of this, we truly have been a light to the nations and God has allowed America to develop the resources to spread this light along with the good news of God's grace, available to all who are willing to accept it.

Yet we Americans have not always taken up the responsibility as we should, and have often used our freedoms for selfish ends. Indeed, many of us have done the very things which anger God and have not only failed to change but even declined to acknowledge the enormous debt we owe to our Creator.

Just as I do not believe God hates me because He allowed me to be injured, I do not think God hates America because He allowed evil to be done. Rather, I believe that this situation is intended as a wake up call for our nation. And we must not let our short collective attention span move on to something else before we have learned the lesson and made the changes. This is called repenting in the language of the Bible.

But if God had a purpose for good in all this, what about those who died? I believe that the Bible shows God to be fair and that He will give each individual a chance to respond to Him although we may not be able to see it. I truly believe that there was a lot of prayer on those planes and a lot of spiritual transactions taking place between the time the planes hit and the buildings collapsed. And do not forget how many were miraculously able to escape. For those who died instantly and without warning, I also believe that they had experienced their chances to either accept or reject God's plan before that instant.

A skeptic can scoff, call it wishful thinking and intensify his anger or unbelief. But no one can deny that there has been a lot of prayer following these events, including our leaders praying for Divine guidance. Churches have also experienced a real influx of new or returning attendees.

One atheist friend of mine claimed that it must have made no difference to believe in God because many believers died. That is a natural mistake for an atheist, failing to understand that death is not the end and the most important question is where we go and what we experience afterwards.

A synopsis of the Bible could be stated like this: We are not accidents or the result of impersonal natural forces but creations of a loving God. He wanted us to resemble Himself and thus gave us free will to choose between right and wrong. Unfortunately, we have all chosen the wrong. Because of this, evil entered the world and affects all of creation. The non-living things and forces of nature as well as all living creatures as said to "groan" because of what has happened. And human beings, from innocent babies to adults with every mixture of good and bad characteristics and actions have all been affected and are said to be under a curse.

But God did not want to leave us in that state and so took upon Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, Who was God in human form, the penalty we deserved -- "the wages of sin." Those who are willing to admit their own wrongdoing and accept the forgiveness offered, who are willing to acknowledge that their Creator and Savior rightly holds authority over them, are said to "pass from death into life." They begin to experience what God intended for human beings from the beginning.

Thus, God does not hate His creatures, although He hates what we have done. He certainly longs for people to turn from the rebellion, which is called "sin," and return to Him. This is difficult because sin is often pleasurable -- although always destructive in the long run -- and many become "slaves to sin." In addition, human pride often does not want to acknowledge a higher authority. And even wealth and comfort tend to turn our eyes away from the things that are most important in life.

God reaches out with His good news and some respond. But for many of us, it takes bad news to get our attention. Thus God allows suffering to enter our lives with the hope that we make the decisions that will bring us back to Him. And there are certain things that especially anger God because they are the most likely to prevent response to His love. His judgment is sometimes delayed as He gives us time to repent, but eventually the inevitable will happen.

The things to avoid are not a secret He springs on us unaware, but have been revealed clearly in conscience and in revelation. The Ten Commandments are not arbitrary rules but guides to life that lead to temporal and eternal good. God's judgment in the past has been announced by prophets with warnings and conditions before the disasters fell. He is particularly concerned about those activities and ideas that most threaten the possibility of people seeing the truth and turning to Him. He judges in order to save. This is not like the medieval church burning a heretic to save his soul but like arresting a drunk driver before he kills someone.

The things God most often judged in Old Testament times were 1) Worshipping or seeking the favor of false gods, including involvement in the occult, 2) Sexual immorality and 3) The killing of babies. In fact, 2) and 3) were often closely associated with 1) because ritual prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual, as well as the offering of babies as burnt sacrifices were part of many of the ancient religions. In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Romans chapter 1, God adds that He is angered by the suppression of the truth.

America is guilty of all these sins and should have expected a response from God. Here toes will be stepped on and people offended, political correctness is violated and pluralism challenged. And yet the fact is that there is a difference between truth and falsehood, the genuine article and counterfeits. America has left the faith of the Founders and wandered into a vague New Age spirituality which affirms all beliefs as equal. Freedom of religion is important but is not the same as saying that there is no difference between the different options.

Also, we have abandoned God's pattern for sexuality - one man, one woman for life - and tolerated, even affirmed, all sorts of other misuses of what God intended as a blessing and an object lesson of His relationship with the people He loves. We have equated the presence of a desire with the inevitability of acting on that desire. We have assumed that anything that comes out of our hearts is "natural" and that it must be good. This is partly because we have failed to comprehend the darkness in human nature and our own bent towards doing wrong.

We have killed babies as well, not by taking already born babies to a Temple to sacrifice in order to win the favor of demon-gods, but have attacked them in the womb for economic, social or personal benefit. The system that has grown up to support and carry out these acts has taken on all the characteristics of a religious enterprise with its fixed system of beliefs that often fly in the face of contrary scientific facts and demonstrated adverse outcomes.

Finally, we have truly suppressed the truth. This is especially obvious in the censorship from the media and public schools of scientific data that opposes evolution and thus affirms that the world and we ourselves are created. This, of course, gives intellectual respectability to the idea that there is no God and that all things have created themselves by natural means. In that world view there is no ultimate right or wrong and no responsibility to anyone beyond ourselves, but also no meaning and finally no hope.

So, the activities that God hates are those that lead precious human beings - whom He loves - away from the relationship with Him that is the purpose and goal of their existence. It may be that this happens by the seductiveness of pleasure in illicit sexuality. It may be a desire for power that comes from occult or spiritual forces that seemingly can be manipulated through secret knowledge or sacrifices. It may be the psychological power of guilt that causes us justify what we have done and become irrationally resistant to change because we do not want to admit that we have done wrong.

I hope and pray that all Americans will reach out to our Creator and Savior Who will eventually return as Judge. We who think we have been righteous must look more closely at our failures and repent. Those who feel overwhelmed by fear can find comfort and security in an assurance of eternal safety. Each one who sees the sin within and cannot believe that God could ever forgive will find individualized, compassionate acceptance as a father accepts the wayward child who comes back in rags. It is up to believers to start the chain reaction because others cannot see.

God put it this way: "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (I Chronicles 7:13, 14)

Send comments to me at ross{at}

The URL for this document is