Once there was a man whose house was in a flood. He stood on the porch as the waters rose. A boat came by, the driver urged the man to get on board but the man said he was waiting on the Lord to save him. The waters rose, the first floor was flooded and as the man looked out his second story window, another boat came to rescue him. The man turned the boat away, saying he would wait for God to rescue him. Finally he was clinging to the chimney on the roof. A helicopter flew overhead and dropped down a ladder. The man waved it off, saying Jesus would save his life. Finally he was swept away in the waters and drowned. At the pearly gates, he saw God and said, Lord, all my life I did as you asked but when the time came you did not save me. And God said, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what else did you want?"
Mayor Larry Langford wants us all to pray and wear burlap and ashes, so we'll stop shooting each other. "We're hoping this will get the attention of God as we humble ourselves and say to God, `We need you desperately,'" one citizen says. "We need to humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us, and he will heal our land," proclaims a preacher. Langford tells the people at his revival meeting to pray for an end to the violence plaguing the city.
Here's another story: In Wisconsin, parents let their little girl die. She was sick, from diabetes it turns out, but they wouldn't take her to a doctor because they believe in the Bible and that prayer would heal her.
Langford and his preachers and an awful lot of Birmingham's citizens are like those parents.
Why do you think that you do not already have the attention of God? And more importantly, what exactly do you expect God to do? Are you waiting for some magical light from the sky that will transubstantiate bullets into butterflies? Perhaps you expect every thug and miscreant in the metro area to simultaneously have a Road to Damascus experience. Maybe you will wake up tomorrow, the ashes still gritty on your forehead, and all the falling down houses and unkempt yards miraculously will have picket fences and fresh bright paint.
Or maybe, just maybe, God wants you to get out there and do the work. Maybe he has sent you what you need, but you're ignoring it because you'd rather make a spectacle. That way it looks like you're doing something. But in reality, your child is dying.