Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Where are you?"

“Where are you?”

It’s a question we’ve been asking of God lately, especially since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. It’s an honest, heart-felt question. The question sounds a bit mocking, with a tad of derision. It’s not necessarily declaring a state of apostasy, but more of a natural reaction. Sometimes it just sounds good to ask the question even if we know the answer. But it doesn’t catch God off guard.

Especially since, He asked it of us first.

They were His first spoken words in the world’s newly realized fallen state, moments after the fateful bite of the fruit, or at least after just enough time to sew a few fig leaves together.

Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden and God asked, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9)

In His omniscience, God knew the answer. I’m certain He knew the whereabouts of Adam and Eve. But He asked the question, maybe just to get it down on paper for us to see, knowing that we’d be asking that question of Him, now that the world was in its fallen state.

And we have been asking that question ever since. Israel asked it. Psalmists asked it. Martha asked it. Even Jesus asked it.

I have asked it.

And I thought I’d use the occasion of the three-year anniversary of Dana’s passing to comment on that question.

I think the time I felt most abandoned by God was when we were in the slog of the fight. It seemed that any time we hit a juncture where things could take a turn for better or worse, a time when God could show His hand, it was then that things would turn for worse. In our short-sighted humanness it’s natural to feel that we’re on the wrong side of God.

But, in the cosmic scheme of things, we’re not the ones who moved. I think it’s because of the things we have to navigate in this fallen world that cause us to question the presence of God. It has broken my heart to hear people this past week ask, almost with a shaking fist, “Where is God?”

In my journey God has been extra merciful in reminding us of His presence. Rainbows in the sky, deer in the yard, and even a heart in the clouds. (You may want to search this blog for the key words in that last sentence to get geeked up on what’s come to be known as “God stamps.”) I say merciful because He has already told all of us in His Word that He is with us, that His Comforter is walking with us, that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And He told us those things in almost the same breath when He says that we will have trouble.

God saw it coming. And I think that’s why He asked the question first.

So these days, when I find myself asking that question of God, I want to ask it of myself. Where am I? I think that keeps me on a better track. Because the reality is, God is near. Always. Everywhere.

I want to leave you with a thought that’s more connected to marking three years than to the question “Where is God?” I remember about the second Christmas into the cancer recurrence fight (probably Christmas 2008) that Dana had a bit of a spooky thought. We were at a family gathering and she was picturing that gathering without her in the picture. With the threat of a serious illness, that picture can be more vivid. She was picturing all of us carrying on as if nothing had happened.

Those of us who are still here, fighting through the fallen world, know that nothing can be further from the truth. I have said this before: you can’t have known Dane for even a minute without having something change in you. We are all different.

As we reflect on three years on this earth without Dane, I might ask that you tap into that part of your personal DNA that was impacted by Dane. Keep it fanned and flamed.

And I think there’s something else going on that Dane would have no way of foreseeing. I don’t know about any of you, but we here have felt some kind of extra special encouragement that can only come from the Dana corner of heaven. There is more to tell, but suffice it to say I think Dane is having an absolute blast in more ways than one. More on all of that soon.