Sometimes I wonder if I’m lying. All this stuff I tell people about God- what if it’s all a myth I’ve bought into to find purpose? It’s just that this is such a messed up world, with so many irreparable people. Where is God in all of this?
A couple weeks ago I complained these thoughts to my friend, Cliff. He looked at me from across the table and bowed his head. He prayed that I would meet God face to face in a way so real that I would see the features of his face and the callouses on his ancient hands- so I would know him. Really know him.
I went home exhausted and fell asleep on the floor in my clothes. A phone call from my schizophrenic friend Bonnie woke me up at midnight. I listened about her friends and the government conspiring against her for money she’s sure she’s won. Finally, at 3am, in desperation I yelled at her. She was quiet for the first time since I’ve known her. I apologized. We prayed. I prayed for her healing several times, in several ways. But after amen she kept talking my ear off with frantic delusions. Messed up world. Irreparable people.
I finally forced her to say goodnight at 3:30am and I hung up. I lay in bed, crying out into the emptiness of a lonely house:
“WHY ALL THIS PAIN!? WHY ALL THIS SADNESS!? AND WHY DON’T YOU FIX THINGS I PRAY FOR!?”
“Go for a walk”
“What? At 3:30 in the morning? I need my sleep!” it was a ridiculous request. After wrestling with the idea for a few minutes I smirked back to the ceiling, “Ok, God. Just so you know that I’m doing my part in the deal. I’ll go for a walk.”
God was waiting for me a couple blocks away in the lonely, crisp pre-dawn air.
I had started my walk by telling Him how angry I was with his absence, but at a certain moment I realized He was there with me. I believe I saw His face in the most real way I ever have. Not like I could see the features of His eyes or nose or lips, but I could see the look on His face. It surrounded me like a cloud and went with me as I walked. I could see his emotion as if I were looking at someone’s sad eyes.
The look on his face was sadness. But it was peaceful. Peaceful sadness. I walked and talked with him, as the air chilled my wet eyes.
He said, “I know it hurts. I didn’t want it this way. but I have a plan to fix it some day. I am writing this story. Right now is just the sad part. You see Bonnie’s pain for a couple hours every other week. I feel it ALL the time. Can’t you stay awake for a little while and just walk with me.”
He had been waiting for me. Like he had longed for companionship in the garden of Gethsemane when he had said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Over the next few days I realized I sort of had answers to my questions.
-Why all this pain? I don’t know, but God has a plan to fix it some day. -Why all this sadness I see so often? I don’t know, but God feels it all the time. -And why doesn’t He fix the things I ask for? I don’t know, but when I ask, I am sharing the pain with him, and offering to walk with him for a while in a very lonely garden.