(A friend who wants to stay anonymous sent me this, and graciously agreed to let me share it as a guest post. I think what she has to say meets all of us at some point.)
Remember playing Hide-and-Seek with your friends when you were a kid? And sometimes you couldn’t find that hidden person, even when you knew that they were in the same vicinity as you were.
Then you grew up to become an adult. And sometimes now it feels like a game of Hide-and-Seek with Father God. You know He must be in your vicinity, but you can’t see Him. Your search into hidden corners and dark closets does not find Him. The frustration increases and the fun of the game falls flat. You just want Him to step out and move on to the next thing with you.
It’s no fun to be looking for Him and be unable to find Him.
I have two different friends who have complex court situations going on this week… Both of them righteous people, living uprightly. As this evening’s youth Bible study said about Joseph- “It’s confusing to be doing right and yet suffer for it”.
Another friend is getting ready to go meet the mother who abandoned him to strangers twenty years ago… Where was God in her desperate situation? Where was God when he watched his other mother die after extensive physical suffering?
Where is God when a fruitful flourishing church crumbles and falls apart at the seams? Where is God when people step out in faith and put everything on the line for a new venture… and it goes nowhere?
Where was God when a family’s dearly loved youngest child fell into their dry riverbed this week, broke her neck- and died?
Where is God when everything that identifies you or gives you value is taken away from you? Where is God when your hopes fade and your dreams go up in smoke; when you feel both your past and your future have been taken away from you?? Where is God when life hurts?
Has He ever felt so far away you didn’t bother talking with Him anymore? Have you ever tired of yelling into nothingness?
Have you ever curled up in a cave and whimpering, waited for numbness and sleep to get you through long, dark nights?
This afternoon I lay on the resurrected green grass and read through four versions (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of the Easter story. And I want to ask you- have you ever noticed that the followers of Jesus did not find Him when or where they were looking for Him? But that when they were not expecting Him, He suddenly appeared to them… in a startling and unexpected fashion? Their souls lived on the edge of keen anticipation in the reality of His largeness, His unpredictability. The mystery of relationship kept freshness and joyful discovery in each encounter with Him.
He was not in the tomb- but He WAS in the garden. He did not initially meet the disciples, but He DID walk down a dusty road with them. He refused to be contained in any box where they expected Him to be, but He DID show up- when and where it really mattered.
Then again- God HAS been showing up for me recently, too. Just not when, where, or how I expect Him.
Just a few nights ago, I received disturbing news about a friend that greatly distressed me. I wrung my hands and I wondered where God had disappeared to this time. Several hours later I got to my computer and an international friend had said, “What happened at 8:30 this evening? Are you okay? What about your friend? Such feelings of fear came over me that I had to go pray for both of you. What’s going on?” Stunned, I realized that God had showed up for me—to someone who is praying more confidently than I myself am right now.
God showed up for me in my current favorite song, breaking out on the local radio station at the perfect moment. The words extend the promise of grace… explain how the healing will begin.
I stressed over money and unexpected expenses. God showed up in my mailbox via a check from a generous friend. He showed up again when another person handed me a card and said, “I want to pay your ticket”. I made a call in reference to getting some yard work done, and the very next day a different person came out of the blue and said- “I want to mow your lawn this summer. Don’t ask anyone else to do it.” (WOW- what a fabulous gift for any single woman!)
I have this amazing friend who listens to me endlessly, who keeps believing in me and encouraging me. In desperate moments I call her up, I message her. I confide the battle with weakness, with shame; I confide the vulnerability and despair. Minutes later, profound peace envelopes my heart and I know that deep inside of me, I am freshly empowered to take another step. Jesus within her prayers has showed up for me… once again.
It happened to Mary. To Peter and to John. To the apostles and disciples who knew Him best and loved Him most. No great surprise that it happens to us.
Sometimes He really does valiantly ride in to save our day. But more frequently, He shows up quietly in mundane details… Surprises us in His noiseless tracks and in the mystery about His movements. But He does show up to supply our needs, to whisper affirmation into our ears, and to shine light on the next step that we need to take- when and where it matters most.
THAT is what Easter means to me this year.