Where are You? Genesis 3: 8-13

Boys MisbehavingA couple had two boys, eight and ten, who were excessively mischievous.  The parents were confident if mischief occurred, their two young sons were involved. The parents heard of a pastor in town who had been successful in disciplining other children.  They contacted him, and he agreed to meet the boys; asking to see them individually.  The ten-year-old met with him first.

The minister sat the boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?”  The boy offered no response, so he repeated the question sternly, “Where is God?”  Again the boy made no attempt to answer, so the pastor raised his voice and shook his finger, “WHERE IS GOD?”  The boy bolted from the room, grabbed his little brother who asked while they were running, “What happened?”  The brother replied, “I’m not sure, but I think we’re in BIG trouble this time. God is missing and they think we did it!Boston Bomb

Where is God” is our question we ask in light of the tragedies the week.  The week began with a case of domestic violence where a man shoots his girlfriend; also killing a child in her womb.  As I was trying to understand that horrific story, the news flashed of Boston Marathon bombing.  This dramatic and sad story that unfolded throughout the week came to an end on Friday with the loss of four lives.  We also learned this week it may be a member of their own justice community who committed the murders in Kaufman County.  On Wednesday, we witnessed the horrendous explosion and loss of life at the plant in West, Texas.  In it all, we ask, “Where is God

A similar, but different question was asked in the Garden of Eden, the place which gives meaning to our beginnings.  This time it’s God asking: “Where are you?”  The Creator is seeking the created one, whom was given every good gift in abundance. Yet, that first couple decided it was not enough; and that they knew better.  So, went their own way, made their own rules; forgetting their lives were the product of God’s graceful hand.

Where is GodWhen we forget from whom we came and do it my way, we make simple and large choices that essentially tell God, “I got this!”  The longer we walk down this lonely road the more likely we’ll ask the wayfaring question, “Where is God?”  The good news is, even, in our questioning, God whispers, “Where are you?”  This has been the activity of God since the Garden; God’s voice speaking in differing tones these loving words, “Where are you?”  The reason, God seeks a relationship with you and I. 

We cannot provide any formula or pat answers regarding why have we had to endure all of this sadness in one week.   Particularly, we cannot answer for God when innocents are killed and evil plots are executed.  Jesus would doesn’t play the blame game when asked by Pharisees, why should we?  We need not conjecture on subjects we lack the ability to digest, much less speak with any certainty.  We can say evil exists and it has ripple effects, which can victimize us, and at other times we knowingly and unknowingly stir foul waters. People make choices; leaving a wake of suffering and loss. These grim realities aren’t reasons to ask, “Where is God?” 

There is an undertone ringing when we ask “Where is God?”  We presume the One who gives life steps back in the face of death and darkness.  We assume we must decide what to do about the tragedies before us.  When our lower selves respond we tend to unjustly judge and divide; beginning cycle of bad choices that compound the darkness and often lead to more death.  This is going our own way; after while, we will be so lost, we will feel like we are in hiding, convinced the forces of darkness rule the world.  This is when we cry out loud, “Where is God?”God in the Garden

Adam and Eve thought they were well hidden; assuming God would not miss them as they went at it alone.  They move on; covering their shame with the help of fig leaves.  Perhaps, they thought God would not find them under the cover of darkness.  They must have been surprised to hear the voice that blew the words, “Where are you?”  That question is God’s way of shining the light of love into the dark hiding places their souls.

This week reminds us the forces of evil manifest in ways we never imagined could unfold in a single week.  Let not the events of this week weigh so heavily we’re stuck wondering “Where is God?”  Instead, listen to your Creator calling, “Where are you?”  We may be tempted to hide; feeling like Jeff Berti who personally witnessed the events in Boston and West.  Even if we try to be left alone, God will find us, hunkered down in our fear.  God is the Architect of light, and shines that light into our darkness, patiently waiting for us to respond to the question: “Where are you?

Where are youWe will answer the question when we set aside our fear of the dark, which will open us up to see the ways God is brilliantly overcoming the darkness we’ve witnessed this week.  Once we seen the hand of God, we’re to partner with God in shining the light into the midst of the present darkness. 

We are to speak up and stand up, so we bear hope that makes a difference first in our own lives and then to others, which we’re privileged to share the light.  We’re not to blend into the darkness, but to beam the radiance of God.  We aren’t to hide our lamp, we’re to light the whole city; reflecting the glory of our Creator who graciously provides all we need. 

If any of us are having a hard time seeing the light, may I remind us we drink deeply from wells we did not dig; we eat lavishly from banquet tables we did not supply. Shall we to only consume from a table of bounty others made possible?  Or, will we let our blessings metabolize in our flesh and answer affirmatively when we hear God inquiring, “Where are you?” 

I heard Hon. Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark speak on Thursday at the City Square Prayer Breakfast.  He spoke of the time when he was first elected as a City Council member.  In order to identify with his constituency he moved into a boarding house in the district.  There he met the matriarch of the hood.  He told her he wanted to help.  She said, “Follow me”.  Cory Booker

She took him down to the street and asked him what he saw.  He told her he saw littered streets, crack houses, and trouble makers.  He thought he was being real and she would be impressed.  Instead, she grew agitated as he spoke, finally exploded and told him he was of no help and walked off.  Booker was confused; wondering what he said wrong. 

He went back to her and inquired what happened.  This time Booker said it felt like this woman of small stature stood so tall she was looking down on him.  She said, “Son, the world you see outside of you is a reflection of what is inside of you.  If all you see is darkness and despair that is all there will ever be.  But, if you look around and see hope, opportunity, love, and the face of God in all you observe then you can help this community.”  She then walked away, and Booker said, “Grasshopper, lesson over.” 

Seeing differfentlyWhen God asks, ‘Where are you?’; God is asking; what do we see? After a week like this: do we see things crumbling because of unbalanced persons who commit deranged crimes? Or, do we see the face of God in each person because they are a child of God. Do we see a pervading spirit of doom; hovering over our existence? Or, do we see the Spirit of God at work in our present moment? To answer the question, “Where are you?” we have to see differently if we’re to shine the light of God into our world.”

A good pastor does not say follow me.  She or he encourages people to take hold of the power of the Spirit God that is within and says, “Lead us!”  The most common way people lose their power is not realizing they have it in the first place.  When we awaken to the power of God within us, things change. Nothing that occurred this week can deter the light of God that can be shined by the people of God sitting in this room. 

I once was confiding in a lay leader about a problem in the church.  I told her, “I just don’t know what to do.”  She offered to pray.  When she finished she said, “I know what you should do”.  I said, “What?”  She paused before speaking. I said insistently, “Tell me”.  Finally, I almost shouted at her, “Tell me what I ought to do.”  She said, “You should do something”.Do it

Friends in the midst of the terrible week, I know what we should do, YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING.  Let us remember that in the something we do an inhumane response to an inhumane act is not human.  Instead we are to get on the grid and shine light for the sake of the victims, enforcers and perpetrators too.  When the light is a loving beam, fears and the light will shine into the darkness of our fears and darkness shall not overcome it 

Don’t be afraid, my love is stronger,

My love is stronger than your fear.

Don’t be afraid, my love is stronger,

And I have promised to be always near


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One CommentLeave a comment

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