Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Absence of God

Mountain View Mondays ~ Stealing Your Breath with Views of the Heart of God

My husband recently read a book called “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller (copyright 2009 by Donald Miller; Thomas Nelson Publishing). In the book, the author talks about his friend, Kathy. Her relationship with God had been seriously damaged by years of hardship. She hung out on the periphery of God for a while until she reached a point where she was ready to let him go altogether. Then she went to Rwanda where she toured the genocide museum in the capital city of Kigali. As she made her way through the exhibits and learned about the events leading up to the genocide she was emboldened in her belief that God only created us to let us “march around in our own misery.” She prayed, “You’re supposed to be good. What are you good for?”

She then visited a church where Tutsis had taken refuge during the massacre thinking they would be safe there. They were not. Men came in with machetes and slaughtered those hiding inside. The skulls of the victims were still piled against the wall, bloody clothes hung from the walls, and bones had been laid out as a memorial. In that moment, she was ready to hate God forever but instead of anger, something else happened. Kathy felt overwhelming tenderness and sorrow as God whispered to her heart,

“This is what happens when people walk away from me, Kathy. I have brought you to this place to show you something important. This is what happens when my compassion and love leave a place.”

This is so appropriate for us as we are reminded of the events of 9/11/2001 - a time of horrific suffering. I remember that day so clearly – where I was when I heard about it on my car radio; where I was sitting when the first tower fell and how I immediately left to bring our two older kids home from school; and how I found my oldest son (8-years-old) lying on the floor in our bedroom crying one evening. When I knelt down beside him and asked him what was wrong, I can remember him saying through his tears, “All those people . . . it’s just so sad.” His little heart was crushed by the stories of extreme suffering.

Our daughter called me from college yesterday to ask if I’d watched the 9/11 memorial service. Her voice cracked with emotion when she spoke of the reading of the victims' names - especially by the young kids (10-11 years old) who had never gotten to know and spend time with their parent.

The presence of evil has such a devastating impact on so many. It causes us to question God’s existence and ask him, "Why?"

Everyday God gives us the freedom to choose. He allows us to choose whether to believe he exists or not – to belong to him or not - to follow him or not – to live by his principles or not – to obey him or not – to let him live in and through us or not. When people choose their own way apart from God, there is a void. God is absent. Evil occurs where he is absent. However, when God is allowed to live in and through us, he is present and so are all of his beautiful qualities. His light dispels the darkness and good overcomes evil.

God is merciful.

"The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” Psalm 145:8-9

God is compassion and comfort.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

God is love.

How precious is your constant love, O God! All humanity takes refuge in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 36:7

God is forgiving.

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness . . ." Psalm 130:3-4

God is kind.

"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:4

God is good.

"For the Lord is always good. he is always loving and kind, and his faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation." Psalm 100:5

 . . . and this is the short list!

Wherever God is, these qualities are present. How can God be present in this world through you?    

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your heart and your time with me here at The Warming House! I absolutely love having you here.

With great confidence in the character of God . . .