Where Were You God?

We often find ourselves living lives distant from God. And when things go bad, we ask, "Where were you God?" Maybe you can relate to that sentiment and feeling of disconnectedness. You may have stepped out on faith and everything seemed to have crumbled. You may have done something you felt you were called to do and didn't see any fruit from your labor.

The Old Testament prophet Elijah sure could relate. He was serving God. The miraculous story of God proving Himself on the mountain top had just happened. He had raised a boy from the dead. He had predicted a drought and predicted the coming rain. And then Jezebel wanted to kill him.

If I was Elijah, I probably would have thought that the great signs and miracles would bring people to the Lord. You may feel that way in your personal life. "God, I gave up such and such for you. Yet I'm still struggling. Where are you? I spend time trying to draw close to you. Where are you?"

Here was Elijah, hiding in a cave, scared for His life, all because He had served the Lord.

He gives a good self-pity prayer. You've probably been there before. In your own cave. In your own despair. In your own pride and self-pity.

He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10 ESV).

He's saying in modern terms, "God I did what you wanted. I am following you. I am the only and best Christian. And now they want to kill me. For serving you, they want to kill me."

"And the word of the Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.' And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper." (1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV).

God was in the whisper. Despite exhibiting himself in the fire when God proved Himself on the mountaintop just a little bit before this, He wasn't in the fire again. God cannot be put in a box. God's not what you expect. Previously, He was in the fire. But not this time. This time He was in the whisper. 

We expect the fruits from our labor, like Elijah expected the fruits from His labor. But God responds with the message, "I am in the whisper. Do the things that I want you to do. Be faithful. But if the fruit isn't what you wanted, do not be discouraged. Do not be dismayed. Are you faithful? Then that is all that matters. Remain faithful. Be still and listen. I am in the whisper. But remember, the whisper also doesn't contain me. We miss out on God because of our preconceived notions on how serving Him is supposed to be and how seeing Him is supposed to look. 

So often, we miss out on seeing God because of our preconceived notions on how serving Him is supposed to be and how seeing Him is supposed to look like. We can't shape our Lord. Our Lord must shape us. God always moves in unexpected ways. And if we aren't listening to Him - if we aren't living in Him - we will miss him.

Lawson Stone, a professor at Asbury, said in a lecture the other week. "For good or ill, however risky and troubling it may seem, God has entrusted the maintenance of justice and the protection of the helpless to human communities and their leaders, to you and me. I am my brother’s keeper. Where is God in abuse and violence? How is he present to those who suffer? Here's the unwelcome news: He's in us, expecting us to be the bearers of his presence. When we ask God 'Where were you?' He replies, 'Where were you?' God calls upon us to create the kind of community where power does not mutilate, but fosters thriving."

Jesus now comes to our world through His Spirit and through the church. Through people like you and me who live in relationship with each other and Jesus.

We pray, "God, feed the hungry of the world."

And the Spirit answers back, "Go, feed the hungry."

We pray, "God, house the homeless."

And the Spirit answers back, "Go, house the homeless."

When we pray "God, please." It is usually echoed with a "Go, be."

And then you are his reflection.  A reflection who feeds a hungry. A reflection who gives school supplies to those in need. A reflection who brings a pizza as a thank you. A reflection who houses the homeless.

So when we ask, "Where were you God?"

He answers, "I was in the friend you were ignoring. I was the person you were fighting with and alienated. I was the helpless person you refused to help. I was all around you, yet you failed to see me. "

Where is God? He is everywhere.

But because of our lack of being in touch with the Spirit and our preconceived notions, we don't see Him. We say, "God must come like this and He must look like that."

There  is no book. There is no building. There is no belief. There is no box that can contain God.

Let us help unleash God in this world.