Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dear Father, may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8

It wasn’t just the church that was absent when I was molested behind the bushes by a homeless man after Sunday night service at the age of 6.
It wasn’t just the church that let me down when my former wife had a miscarriage and my marriage finally fell apart.
It wasn’t the church that failed to show up when my father died at 56.
The church wasn’t absent when I wrestled with soul crushing clinical depression for about 6 months.
I’m not saying the church is perfect or that I’ve never been hurt my Christians. I have. However, my problem is not with the church, it’s with God. I buried God a week after I buried my father. I didn’t leave the church until well after that. I still go from time to time and miss the sense of community it offered. I haven’t been able to find it elsewhere since.
I just wanted God to be the person I told others he was. Personal. Intimate. Available.
He’s been completely silent now for exactly 20 years. Whether it truly is or not, it has felt like divine absence, even abandonment. As an adopted child, that’s an especially hard feeling to deal with. So, I choose to believe otherwise. I choose to believe that it’s not personal, that he’s not personal. I choose to believe that his silence and distance are just part of his nature and that’s okay. I choose to believe that the wounds I’ve taken are not the fault of a distant God who is able to fix things but doesn’t out of lack of care. I’ve chosen to believe that he just was never there to begin with, or if he was, not close or present enough to really intervene.
The church is fine.
It just hurts to hear and sing about their God.
So, I slip out the back door usually half way through the service.
Life outside of the faith has been far less painful than in.
I found far more peace outside the sanctuary.

So a few years ago I met this guy at the Starbucks at Country Club and Speedway. I think both of us were grading high school essays or something like that. We found out we knew a bunch of the same people; I mean, Tucson is a small town really. I have no idea why we became Facebook “friends,” but we did, and I have been following his classroom tales and relationship angst ever since.

And I don’t really understand the crazy community of Facebook and the crazy spectrum of humanity that weaves itself together and speaks to me through these invisible strands.  But I do know that it keeps my heart tender to that beyond me, to the aches and concerns and celebrations and confusion of all peoples throughout the world, from Istanbul, Turkey to the San José de Ocoa, Republica Dominicana, from Nashville, Tennessee to Naples, Italy.

And today I will carry this friend in my thoughts and prayers as I stumble through the day, through the twirling DNA onto a glass rod, through the two musical recitals, through writing an argumentative essay about a kid who wanted to freely express himself by wearing a band t-shirt to school and through picking up Thao for family dinner. Dear Father in heaven.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

Why and how… those are the questions that I make my kiddos go back and answer when they scribble careless answers onto their college-lined papers. You made a claim, now give me the evidence.   I say this again and again all day long.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.

And for me, the evidence lies all around me. Evil is easy to explain. Things fall apart. But why does that little kid smile as he picks himself up out of the dirt and brushes off the prickers? Or what about the guy with the violin standing next to the underpass with his sleeping dog, his knapsack and his upside down hat to welcome a few quarters?  What about me, as I pull myself out of Hillenbrand Pool yet another morning to marvel at the golden glints smoking off the once-again-ablaze Catalinas, and I breathe in deeply and am grateful for another day?

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for this day and for all the loving kindness You pour out on us. Bless us in whatever we are allowed to do in Your service, that it may always be done in love to all people. May Your will be done throughout the world, so that at last all confusion may come to an end, Satan’s work may be destroyed, and Your children may shout for joy that your will is being done on earth as in heaven. Amen.