God came near

By Gerry Lewis | Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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Do you ever think of a witty and clever response about 30 minutes too late?

Do you envy those quick-witted folks who seem to have a response without having to think about it?

Favorite son has always been one of those. When he was a young teenager, we were in a restaurant waiting for the waitperson (note the politically correct, non-gender-specific terminology) to take our order. My boy was constantly jabbering – but in such a low volume that the cacophony of voices and rattle of dishes in the restaurant made it difficult to understand.

Mrs. Sweetie finally asked, “What did you say?”

“Oh, I was just talking to myself,” he replied.

She responded, “Well, are you answering yourself?”

Without a moment’s hesitation he demonstrated that we were in the presence of wit-greatness. “No,” he said, “I’m not feeling very talkative tonight.”

At this point I contributed to the conversation with guffaws and snorts. It reminded me a little bit of the hand-lettered message favorite daughter once had on her bedroom door – “I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but you appear unarmed.”

One of the perplexities of life is it sometimes seems God is not feeling very talkative. Now I’m not talking about hearing God speak out loud. Most Christ-followers have never heard God audibly, but they have “heard” Him speak in other ways.

God can seem un-talkative when you read the Bible, but nothing seems to touch your heart. You pray, but you feel no connection with God. I’m talking about when the circumstances of life make no sense and there are no words that make it any better.

In my years as a pastor I often had the occasion of conducting a funeral service for someone that spent most of his life making really poor choices. In those times I wondered what to say. What words could reframe this circumstance for a devastated family? God seemed irritatingly un-talkative.

When there is another natural disaster or another terrorist attack somewhere in the world, what can we say that helps put it in perspective? How can people of faith speak to the watching and listening world without seeming trite and rehearsed? God seems irritatingly un-talkative.

Then I remember that God has spoken through sending One who was called Emmanuel – which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). When God seems irritatingly un-talkative, we must remember that Jesus was God’s visible reminder that He is with us. He constantly reaches out to us. He is the God who comes near.

When my kids were babies they would sometimes wake up and cry in the night. They did not need someone to come and explain to them why they should not cry. They needed a big someone to come and pick them up and hold them close and let them know they were not alone.

God may seem irritatingly un-talkative, but He hasn’t gone away. Our lives matter, and He is with us.

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association headquartered in Decatur.

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