Recently, my mother died. While I am thankful she lived to age 90, the final years of her life were filled with health issues and complications, surgeries, physical therapy rehabilitation, and pain. In the final months, dementia took over, wrapping her in a haze of befuddlement and fear.
Each day, when I entered the "memory" unit of the care facility, before I even saw my mother, I heard her pleading voice reverberate down the corridor, "Please! Please! Won't somebody help me?" Even when I sat beside her, held her hand, and assured her of my presence, she continued to scream for help. During those difficult days, I often prayed, God, where are you? How does my mother's suffering glorify you? When will you answer her cry for help?
When we are going through challenging times, it's normal for us to ask, "God, where are you?" We want an immediate response to questions that sometimes have no ready answers. We question God's timing and want to know the outcome of the situation prior to its resolution. But have you ever wondered what it's like for God when we distance ourselves from Him?
"But the LORD God called to the man, 'Where are you?'" Genesis 3:9 (NIV)
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they experienced fear for the first time. Suddenly, they understood the consequences of sin—separation from God. Prior to sin, they eagerly awaited God and enjoyed fellowship with Him in the beautiful, cool, lush garden that was their home. After disobeying, they feared God's reaction and hid from their Creator. Even before God asked, "Where are you?" He knew His relationship with Adam and Eve had changed.
Many days, God asks me the same question, "Where are you?" Chores capture my attention. Deadlines loom. The Internet, social networking, phone conversations, or TV watching eat up valuable hours with little return. And God waits patiently, knocking on my heart's door, asking where I am and why I haven't spent time with Him.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
Where are you? A good question. Where am I in my spiritual walk? Where am I in my prayer life? Where am I in Bible study? Where I am in telling others about God? Sometimes I am hiding because I've allowed unconfessed sin to erect a colossal barrier. Other days, I am simply lazy and undisciplined, navigating life in my own terms, seeking wisdom elsewhere, and fearing things that may never happen. Yet God waits patiently, missing special times of connection with me.
Sometimes we forget that God created us specifically for the purpose of having fellowship with Him. The word picture in Revelation 3:20 of Jesus sitting at the dinner table sharing a meal with us provides a reminder of the type of warm fellowship afforded us, if we are willing. But most often we ignore the offer of intimate friendship. God is standing by waiting to impart wisdom, encourage us, comfort, and help us with problems and struggles. He misses us when we remain distant. But instead of seeking Him and looking forward to time with Him, we hide behind duties, obligations, events, activities, relationships or self-created busyness that we consider more important or necessary. We fall into bed at night exhausted, and God is still waiting, sad that we have ignored him yet another day, quietly saying, "Here I am! Where are you?"