Thoughts on Libya and Muammar Qaddafi

“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His:  And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings:”       Daniel 2:20,21

These verses from Daniel seem especially fitting in light of the changes taking place in the Middle East in the last few weeks.  God is in control of His creation.  Let us not forget this important truth.

Thinking specifically about the recent developments in Libya, I am taken back 25 years ago when I had a life-changing experience during a trip to France.

My sister and her husband were living in Paris on a two year assignment and for weeks I had been making plans to visit them.

My bags were packed, my ticket and passport were at the ready, and my busy itinerary was beckoning me.  It was April 14, 1986 and I was to leave the next day.

Yikes!  American planes had just bombed Tripoli.

But then the unexpected happened.  News reports announced that American fighter pilots had bombed a suspected chemical weapons plant in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.  The Media was suddenly full of reports and tons of speculation as to what the ramifications would be.  Would Libya retaliate against Americans and if so, in what way?  Muammar Qaddafi was declared to be the enemy of the United States.

But it was not just the news Media which overly dissected the events of the day.  As I ran errands that morning taking care of last minute details, my friends were shocked that I would even think of following through with my travel plans.  A lot of genuine concern was expressed but also a heavy dose of FEAR.

There were three sorts of comments from people I knew:

  1. You’re not still going to Paris are you?  Your plane is probably going to get bombed.  Well thanks for those comforting remarks.
  2. Well, if your plane does get bombed, it must really be time to meet your Maker and God is going to “take you.”  So there’s nothing you can do about it.  Again, not very comforting.  If that were the case, why bother praying for God’s protection.  This seemed like a worse terrorism than Qaddafi could dish out–to think that God would want to have me killed so I could go to heaven.
  3. My dad simply said, “Oh, go on and have a good time and don’t worry about it.”  Encouraging, but is this what I should do?

I was in a bit of mental turmoil.  I had prayed about making this trip at every step of preparation and had felt all along it was the right thing for me to do.  Now, I was not so sure.  I got home that afternoon and realized I couldn’t follow the human advice I had received that day.  I had to ask God what to do.

So, in quiet listening mode, I asked God what I should do.  Very gently, it came to me to proceed with my travel plans.  I felt at peace.

The next morning, my dad drove me to the airport where I would catch a flight to Dallas and then on to Paris.

As I waited for that first flight to board, I felt that little queasy feeling in my stomach.  It wasn’t the kind of fear that makes you tremble in your boots.  It was way down inside me like a taunting whisper that said, “I might die.”  The peace from the day before seemed like ancient history.  I was not visibly nervous, but I knew I needed to pray.  And I turned to God with all my heart.

That’s when it started.

On the flight to Dallas I had a mental picture of being on the plane, looking out the window and seeing a missile heading right for me.  And then the plane would crash into the Atlantic and down I went into the depths.

As if that weren’t bad enough, this mental “video” kept playing over and over in my mind all the way to Dallas–about an hour flight.  It was very disconcerting.

I was praying all along but really didn’t get any sense of peace and assurance that all would be well.   And I was wondering if  I had made the right decision to travel that day.

But I kept praying with all my heart.  Then came the thought:  Well, the same God of the universe who created me also created Qaddafi.  That means that we are brothers.

Oh, no!!!  If he is my brother, I am going to have to love him.  How can I possibly love someone like that?  The news kept saying that Qaddafi was the enemy of the United States.   All of a sudden I was reminded of Jesus’ command to “love your enemies.”  Okay, I thought, just because the US government says this guy is our enemy, I don’t have to go along with that.

So I started trying to love Qaddafi.  Not the easiest task, let me tell you.  It was sort of like trying to crank up a rusty engine that hadn’t been run for twenty seven years.

But I kept at it; I kept cranking out that prayer of trying to love this man.  No, I was not loving or condoning what he had done wrong, but I was trying to love him as God had originally created him.

And the amazing thing is that little breakthroughs of love started to come to me.  I actually had an inkling of something like love for Qaddafi.  It was kind of weird and wonderful all at the same time.  I began to feel deep genuine love for this man.  I could feel the Holy Spirit taking over my prayers.  The love I was feeling for Qaddafi was not just some human emotion I was conjuring up.  It was God’s love for all his creation flooding my mind.

I was totally overcome with the most incredible feeling of genuine, spiritual affection for this “enemy.”  It was exhilarating and humbling as well because I knew I was not the source of this love.  God was.  And He was giving it to me.

I have to tell you, I felt such love for Qaddafi, that if I had seen him on the street I would have openly embraced him and called him my brother.  I know that sounds a bit wacko, especially in light of what’s going on in Libya this week.  But that is how I felt at the time.

What happened next totally surprised me…

All of a sudden, that mental picture of the missile headed for my plane and the plane crashing into the Atlantic played again.  But this time something was different.  When the plane crashed into the ocean, instead of going down with it as before, I stayed up in the air and flew on to Paris, just me in the air without the plane.  And somehow, I was the only one on the plane.

This was so absurdly funny to me that I burst out laughing.  With that, I was totally free from the silent grip of fear that had slowly taken possession of me.  And there were no more reruns of that mental “video.”

But it was not just that the fear was gone.  I had a deep inner awareness of God’s presence.

I would love to think that my prayer changed things in the world that day.  Maybe they did; maybe they didn’t.  Only God knows.  But I know God changed me.  I was healed of fear and hatred, but more importantly, I experienced a sense of love I had never felt before. And I can’t help but feel that Qaddafi was touched in some way as well.

So today, when his countrymen are rejecting him and rebelling against the wrongs he has done them, I will pray for my brother.  I do not condone his deeds, but I pray for my brother.

“He removeth kings, and setteth up kings:”

So what’s the lesson here?

When God puts you on a “throne,” or a position of authority at work or at church or where ever, seek His guidance and obey His commandments.  And be humble about it.

When God removes you from a “throne,” be gracious and accept His will and continue to seek His guidance.  He may have something better for you and it may be someone else’s turn to learn the lessons you learned on your throne.  And if you did something wrong while on your throne, ‘fess up and ask forgiveness of God and those you wronged.

Please let me know how you have prayed about recent world events.

Blessings to you and your world,

James