Lately I’ve been reading a book by my good buddy Wes McMurray. Wes is one of those friends from seminary days that I made an immediate connection with. I spotted Wes in the back of Dr. Heimbach’s Intro to Ethics class. He wasn’t hard to miss in our straight-laced Baptist school looking unapologetically emo in his tight band-t over his pencil-thin frame. I knew we’d be friends from day one. We sat next to each other everyday and talked about Brandtson and Postal Service and drew super heroes in our class notes using words with double-o’s as a starting point for the eyes (i.e. “look” “book” “1200” etc.) Or maybe that last part was just me. I don’t know. Anyway, one thing I immediately picked up on about Wes, was that he was, and still is, an incredibly bright student. Sharp as a tack. And he loved Jesus. That much was obvious. So, when he told me about a year ago that he was working on a book, I knew it was going to be phenomenal. And it is.
It’s called Beyond All Measure. I’m just about done with it. It’s a quick read, but I tend to think quick reads are overrated. Well, not quick reads themselves, only reading quick. I prefer dragging them out as much as ridiculously possible. And that’s what I’ve done. And today, I’m especially glad I’ve been reading slow. Because I needed this. In his chapter regarding God and the problem of evil, Wes recounts an event in one of his classes that had an enormous impact on his understanding of this great paradox. He writes:
“I sat in a class one day as a professor came in and silently wrote on the chalkboard: Godisnowhere. He turned around and asked for someone to raise his hand and tell the class what he saw. Someone spoke up and said, “God is nowhere.” The professor then asked if anybody else saw something different. A hand went up and a student replied, “I thought it said, “God is now here.” It’s interesting how people can look at the same situation and come away with such different explanations. For many people, the world’s tragedies produce these two responses. Some feel that God is nowhere, while others experience His presence and can say, “God is now here.” (p. 131)
Such a simple illustration, but it drives home the point.
I don’t know where you’re at in you’re life today, but I know that difficult times are all around us. If they haven’t hit you recently, they will. Tasha and I were at a church this past Sunday where almost the entire worship team spoke up during our pre-service prayer time to ask for prayer in the midst of great difficulty. It’s all around us.
A good friend of mine lost his 24-year-old brother to drugs about 4 weeks ago. Another good friend is having to give his 2-year-old son a hormone shot every night before bed until he’s 18 so he’ll grow.
On and on I could go. Loss of a job. Death of a loved one. Terminal illness. Wayward children. Slander. Abuse. Misunderstandings. You name it. But in the midst of your situation, I pray that out of this: Godisnowhere, you would see this: God is now here! He is here, my friend. But do you recognize His hand at work in the midst of tragedy? That’s the question.