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When the Gate Fell

It was Sunday afternoon, and we had gathered together for our monthly mission team meeting. The adults were talking on the second-floor balcony of our friends' house, and the kids were running around in the yard below us.

In the background, we heard the gate slide open, and a car entered the property--a taxi ready to pick up some teammates. A few moments later, we heard the ghastly sound of metal crashing and children screaming.

I had a feeling run through me that is usually reserved for nightmares. We rushed downstairs.

Four kids--Josiah, Johnny, and two others--had been pushing the gate together. The force of all four of them pushing at the same time had made the heavy metal gate jump its runners and crash to the ground. The other kids managed to jump out of the way, but Josiah's friend put up his arm to stop the gate, and it fell on top of him, breaking his arm.

Thankfully, the boy's dad is a doctor, and he immediately took over and got his son to a hospital. He is okay now. Our kids were stunned and a bit traumatized, as each of them felt responsible that the gate fell. But everyone was okay.

Funny how something as serious as a broken arm suddenly becomes "only" a broken arm. It took six strong adults to pick up the gate and put it back on it's runners. It was totally and completely an accident--nothing anyone could have predicted, and no one's fault. We all looked at each other grimly as we contemplated the What If''s. What if it had fallen on a smaller child? What if it had landed on someone's head? Everyone remembered a similar scenario a couple of years ago when a falling gate had killed the four-year-old sister of a HOPAC student.

Right before this happened, we had all been discussing some serious issues our organization is facing. We are getting advice, we are doing everything we can, and we are praying--but ultimately the outcome will be out of our hands. We think that by worrying we can somehow gain some control over a situation, but then something terrible happens that we never would have thought to worry about.

We are but microscopic organisms on the head of a pin in a vast universe. Are we subject to the whims of chaos, or is there an infinite God who is orchestrating billions of events every moment of every day, whether it be presidents or armies or the forces of gravity on a metal gate?

How we answer that question determines how then we shall live.

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