There are times in life where I honestly call out to God and ask, “Where were you?”
It’s a question I have asked many times before. Last week I did it again. I heard how a fellow church planter who I would consider a friend had for almost a year shared with his church a vision of opening a coffee house type of venue that his church would use as their home but also function to service the community throughout the week. The vision was a big vision, it was a God sized vision and I was certain God would come through.
The type of money they needed to make it happen meant they needed a God sized miracle, but I wasn’t in any doubt. They love God, want to tell the world about God and had a vision that they felt was from God. So, last week when I heard that this vision had died because their contract on the place they felt God had given them had fallen through, something inside of me died, and I felt myself saying, “God where were You? Why didn’t you come through from them?”
As a Pastor I suddenly felt my friends pain. I had been there! You take steps of faith, you tell the people that God is going to come through, you believe it with all your heart, then you wait and wait like someone being stood up on a date and God doesn’t show.
It takes all that you have to tell the people on Sunday that it is ok, that God has a greater plan, but something inside of you is hurting and hurting bad.
This morning I asked God the same question. I read an article about this famous British diver who said He was in a relationship and couldn’t be happier, and the other person was another guy, then he said, “it just happened, but I’m still attracted to girls”. I know what I say would be seen as narrow minded and bigoted, but it’s not, but I wanted to throw up. I felt the same feeling reading that as I do when I know I have sinned against God. This sick feeling that comes from deep within that just makes me want to barf! I wonder if that it what God feels like when He said He wants to puke people who are luke-warm in their faith out of His mouth?
So I asked God, “Where are you?” We have a crisis of truth being perverted in name of equality and I thought to myself, why doesn’t God just show up? Why doesn’t this massive, powerful, all knowing God who if He just revealed himself in all His glory would command the worship and adoration of the whole world. Who just by speaking His voice could erase sin, sickness, disappointments and our old foe, Satan!
It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last time. However, I realize it could be. I realize that these things we see are often a result of the culture and churches we have created. Over the last several years I have seen how churches are boasting about how God is moving, how they are breaking new attendance records, starting new campus’ and “changing lives”. I’ve been part of those churches, been on staff there and even led them and I’ve realized we haven’t changed lives, God hasn’t been moving, but we have! We’ve created churches that are changed by the culture instead of the church being the creator of culture. We’ve got rid of our gatherings of “real” prayer and replaced it with other modern methods to get as many people in one place at one time. We’ve stopped asking people to live holy lives, set apart from this world in order to make it more comfortable for people to come and pack our building on Sunday morning. We’ve changed the truth of scripture in order to accommodate this offended consumer culture and we’ve all given ourselves a pat on the back because we call it growth!
So this morning as I asked God this question, as I have asked so many times before, “Where are You?” I finally heard a faint reply, “Alex, where are you?”
In that moment I knew God had never moved. My disappointments, my unanswered prayers, my longing for a culture that is changed by the church not vice verse and my prayer that the church would just stop playing games and get real about this whole thing all stepped into the light. We have moved, we have left our father’s side. We walked off and then blamed God for not being there.
Today is one of those days where I realize more than ever, if I am not daily coming back to the cross of Jesus Christ then life is going to be a continuing cry of “God, where are You?”