So, “where was your Jesus on Monday afternoon?” a critic might ask. And so might I. I mean the Bible records Jesus’ words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (16 Bible references just from Google). And “I will be with you to the end of the age.” (4 or so more.)
So, where was He on Monday? It’s a tough question. And I, thankfully, am neither theologian nor pastor. Just a kinesthetian. (Just coined that!) I can look at all the good that was done, all the helpers and good Samaritans running into the fray, all the kind and compassionate acts performed, and now I can breath a sigh of relief and give a cheer of congratulatory thanks for law enforcement who captured the man shown responsible on many image-recording devices.
But I’m not lying in a hospital bed lamenting the loss of a limb or a loved one.
If, in this moment, I were to field the Jesus question from one of these, what would I say? I could give them a cheery “God redeems all things,” speaking of a future that neither of us can see yet. That might be a fair response. But not helpful.
I could give them a “I know He was there because He promises to be with us and never leave us,” but they would surely counter with, “Then why didn’t He stop this?” I would. I do.
At this point I conveniently toss off my preacher pretense and admit I don’t know. I have never found looking back to be a good way to steer myself forward.
Could it be that He wasn’t there? That perhaps He had gone ahead to make a place for us. Or maybe He was lagging behind, searching for the lost sheep. I imagine He is (and was) both, as He is not confined to time and space. But right then, at 3:50pm or so, where? That’s the sticky part.
And if I were today speaking to one who lost much in the bomb blast on Monday, I fear I would not have words to explain or defend the “Monday” question. I would have to be satisfied with the now. That He is here now, working to make right what went so wrong.
He is running today’s race with me, as He always does. In fact I think it may even be a 3-legged race. He and I, each with one free limb in the race, and one that is tethered together. Somehow this is a comforting notion – albeit an odd image – I don’t run ahead and don’t fall behind. Just joined at the hip. To the one who has run the race and yet has come back for me.
Where was Jesus on Monday? Where He always is. How do I know? I can feel Him – his momentum, his tug, his correction, his propulsion, his stability, his strength, his pace. In times of hardship He feels especially close. I don’t expect He draws physically nearer; He is already as close as we’ll let Him be. But, in our weakness and need our senses are tuned to His frequency.
I pray that the hurting feel Christ especially near them now. And oh what a glorious thing it will be to watch them restored. May they know Jesus Himself to be for them whatever was lost. Not a replacement but a renewing.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” ~Hebrews 12:1
Sin and evil have a way of showing up, apart from us and uninvited. Lord protect as as we go.
My husband said to me, “Here. I’m bringing you a gift.” And in his hand he held a dozen or so empty hangers he had pulled from his shirt rack.
“Thanks. You can just put them in the laundry bin,” I told him, “I’ll take it down when I go downstairs.”
He looked at me in utter disbelief. “But then they will get all messed up!” (This man is 50 plus years old and he is serious.) I just stared, incredulous.
“They’ll be out of order,” he said.
I look to see him holding them neatly by their handles so that all the hooks are aligned. And, knowing his sense of order, I suddenly realize his cause for concern. If he tosses them in the bin, this will all fall apart. Someone (that would be me) will have to re-order them. But this is not really his concern. What he holds in his hands, ordered as it is, works. Out of order is out of the question.
I’m pondering this as I fold the rest of the shirts and I see, in my mind’s eye, the ‘Out of Order’ sign on the vending machine. To me that always meant: this machine doesn’t work, someone needs to come fix it. But now I am realizing that the ‘out of order’ sign means something much more simple. It means that the order of operation has been disrupted. Something has come out of line, causing this to malfunction.
Wow. What a description of sin: a misaligning of the intended order. God created us all lined up. A multi-color arrangement, many shapes and sizes, all with our handles oriented in the direction that hangs on the pole. When we were tossed down into the dirty clothes bin, of course, we got all messed up.
To someone like my husband, who incidentally will tell you he believes in God but won’t claim to know Christ, this is unthinkable, instinctively. No one in his right mind would take something perfectly ordered and disrupt it. It won’t work right. It will need a repair man, a service woman…oh, someone to come fix it.
Because of people like me, Christ came and, ever so carefully, turned all the hangers the right way.