When God Seems Distant
The warehouse grocery store was chock-full of almost as many people as products, almost as many carts as people. First of the month, just before a holiday – these are the days prudent shoppers stay home. Yet here we were, thick amongst the masses, inching along, trying to collect what we needed and not get in anyone’s way.
That’s challenging on a normal day when you have four kids and a grocery cart the size of a small car, but we manage. This time my parents joined us and the reward at the end of the grocery maze was pizza the size of your face from the warehouse food court.
This would take another level of strategic navigation. Apparently, my kids aren’t the only ones who like face-sized pizza.
We had a plan. One adult would get the food. One would jockey for a table and another would park the cart. Maybe this is what they mean when they say it takes a village? Today I was thankful for one.
When Fear Sets In
In charge of the cart, I tried to find an inconspicuous place, out to the way, to the station this monstrosity. But space was limited. I crossed the wild rush of traffic headed for the exit and found a quieter spot to park my cart, just a little further out, and as I did I heard my name ring out from a thin voice. Mooooooooom!
I knew before I turned my head that was mine, the call for me. I knew the tone and heard the question behind the word. I heard fear at the edges and forced calm. Loud, but not too loud. Scared, but not too scared. I turned my head and instantly caught sight of my freshly minted 7-year-old.
He stood alone on the other side of this forceful stream of passing carts, all eager to escape the concrete labyrinth. I watched his head turn back and forth, his eyes move quickly from cart to cart with no sense of familiarity. No grandma, no grandpa, no mom.
I wasn’t even 20 feet away, but in the mass of traffic, he didn’t see me, couldn’t hear. I never took my eyes off him, but I was pinned behind passing carts. I had to wait 15 seconds that felt like minutes, for a break in traffic so I could shuffle between carts and get to him.
He trembled. And clung. And a single tear ran down his cheek as I scooped him up. “I didn’t know where you were, Mom.”
My heart swelled something deep, for my son, and for my Father.
Where Are You, God?
I knew his pain, his doubt, his fear. How many times have I been this lost kid?
When marriage feels harder than it should be.
When the doctor brings news that doesn’t seem fair or right.
When I prayed my heart out and the outcomes appear to be unchanged.
Where are you, God? I don’t know where you are right now.
My eyes dart quickly between the fast-paced traffic of life, the busy schedule and growing kids, meals and dishes and I wonder where He is. I wonder where He is when there are needs I can’t fill and problems I can’t fix and less time than there is work. All carts moving quickly, forcefully, in front of me.
Maybe you’ve felt this too?
We’re not the first. Elisha’s servant found himself in the same spot in 2 Kings 6. He woke up early one morning to find the Syrian army, complete with horses and chariots, surrounding the city in a headhunt for Elisha. When the worried servant told Elisha the bad news, Elisha responded,
“Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (16)
I wonder what Elisha’s servant thought and felt in that moment. I wonder if he believed Elisha or thought he was crazy. Not that it really matters because in the very next verse Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened that he may see. And instantly the servants saw “the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire”. (17)
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works. The Lord Is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. Psalm 145:17-19
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Elisha’s servant, just like my little boy in that grocery store, didn’t know what he didn’t know. Help was near, provision was near, protection was closer than either of them ever knew, they just couldn’t see it.
The visual was a good reminder for me. I have Truth to stand on. So do you. We must not let our eyes deceive us, our fear deceives us, our feelings deceive us.
We know Truth that is greater than what we see in front of us. Remind us, Lord. Help us to proclaim it.
It’s time we live it. He has promised us a Helper. We need not doubt; we are surrounded. He is closer than we even know.
Katie, I Choose Brave