When God asks "Where are you?"
I have been quiet here lately. Because I haven’t known what to say. Hate wreaks havoc on a tired world. Fear swells up angry and a nation takes sides. Hurt breaks hearts that come up swinging. Well-intended words offend. Accidental insults wound souls already raw. Silence feels like safety, but it feels like hiding too. And my heart finds healing here at this blank screen. And my faith finds itself again. And very often, my God lifts my chin to show me His presence as my fingers fight for words on this keyboard. So I've come to this familiar spot.
I’ve not come to offer answers but to seek the One who holds this whirling world. And I don’t come with unbiased perspective. I know that. I know that because every morning I wake up to a picture on my bedside table of my brother kissing his wife’s cheek on the morning they got engaged.
I know that because he wears a uniform that symbolizes our protection and his risk. My brother is a police officer. And he does his job well. And he does it willingly. And I am proud of him. And I am grateful for him. And I worry about him.
I come as a white, American female who is crazy about her police officer brother. I come as one whose hands shook during worship yesterday morning because fear is a real thing.
I come as one who knows what it is to fear for one you love. I come as one inclined to hide my face from others and from our Lord. And maybe that is enough ground to share for just a moment.
“Where are you?” the Lord called out to Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:9).
And since then, man has been yelling the question back at God: “Where are You?”
Where are You when a truck slams into people celebrating their freedom?
Where are You when a gunman opens fire against ones who stand to protect?
Where are You when a man feels threatened for the color of his skin?
"Where are You?"
Adam and Eve grabbed fig leaves to hide behind when they realized their nakedness had been exposed. We slap on plastic smiles. We fill our days with frantic activity. We are “fine” and “good” and “blessed” but we are broken. We sew together what sense we can make of a world gone mad, and we stretch the threadbare coverings over our fear and hurt and doubt. They’re ill-fitting, but it feels better than the exposed flesh of angry wonder: “Where are You?”
It's an infant’s raspy cry that declares the answer. “They shall call His name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23).
And He was. With us. And He is. With us.
Adam and Eve heard the sound of Him walking in the Garden, and they hid (Genesis 3:8). And so do we.
"Where are you?" He whispers. He must be awfully close for us to hear His whisper.
And in the shock of His nearness, we let the fig leaves fall. The plastered smile slips. The frantic activity ceases. We choke on our clichéd response. We step out from behind these threadbare coverings, exposed and scared and hurting.
"Where are you?"
It’s not the voice of the accuser come to condemn. It’s the voice of a Savior who wrapped Himself in our fragile flesh that He might wrap us up in His endless love. It’s the voice of a Comforter prepared to cover what His child could only hide.
It’s the voice of a Father seeking the child whom He has already stooped to find.
And instead of firing His question back at Him, we dare to answer this time: "I'm right here."
Right here in the center of the sanctuary and I don’t know what to pray.
Right here in the living room and I can’t turn off the news that I cannot bear to watch.
Right here worried that the phone might ring, that national tragedy might take a personal turn.
I don’t know where you are. But I know where I am. I know where I’ve been. And I know the One who comes to find us. I know the One who stepped right out of heaven to wrap us up in Perfect Love. I know the One whose presence is Comfort. I know that I have denied His nearness, have doubted His goodness, have questioned His faithfulness.
I know that His is the only Presence that offers hope to this broken world.
I know that from the time of Adam, we’ve been prone to hide from the only Presence that promises peace.
I know that we don’t have to hide. I know that the One we seek has come seeking us.
I know where I am. And I know that He is God With Us.
“Where are you?” He asks, and we dare to answer.
“I’m right here.”
And He is right there, too.
Day by day we find the One we thought we’d lost.
We dare to drop our fig leaves before Him, to stand awkward and exposed before the God of all creation. And He clothes us in salvation and robes us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
And we can stand where we have stumbled. We can reach where we have retreated. We can heal and hope again. We can find the voice we thought we’d lost. We can tell Him that we're scared, that the world has left us trembling. We can beg for help.
Lord, Here we are. Wounded and weeping and worried. Desperately in need. Here we are. Come heal what we can no longer hide. We don’t know what to do except look expectant toward a Coming King and whisper, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
And the Voice of Truth with His steady power speaks a clear: Here I AM. "Surely I am coming soon" (Revelation 22:20).