By The Rev. Dan Wiese
Have you ever wondered, if you were ever given the chance, sitting down for one hour with Jesus for a face-to-face conversation? What would you say? What would you ask? Admittedly, there are different circumstances in my life that would prompt various questions.
There have been a few times I was dealing with a very stressful time in my life, and I would pray for the stress to be resolved. God did not seem to be answering my prayers like I wanted. So, I would have asked him face-to-face, “Why don’t you fix this?”
Following an accident where a semi-truck hauling gasoline nearly T-boned us, which would have killed our entire family, I was pretty traumatized. Because of a split second and mere inches, the angle of impact injured myself and my family was spared. I went through a severe time of questioning, doubt and asking God, why. After 28 years, I still do not have an answer as to why God allowed that accident to happen or what purpose it served. But at the time, a face-to face with Jesus would have seen some harsh questions.
Maybe after seeing pictures on TV of starving children, or refugees running for their lives, or weeping disaster victims who have lost everything, I would ask God, “Why?”
When cancer strikes, we ask why. When hopes are dashed, we ask why. When this virus hit the world turning everything upside down, we ask why.
A poem, popular years ago, depicted one’s conversation with God. After seeing the journey of his life depicted in a set of footprints in the sand, he saw two sets of footprints, revealing God was with him as he said he would. But then, he noticed that through the hardest times of his life, the most painful struggles of his life, there was only one set of footprints. It seemed God had abandoned him in those difficult times. He complained to God, “When you promised to be with me always, where were you in those painful times of my life?
God’s reply, “I didn’t abandon you. It was during those times I carried you. That is why there was only one set of footprints.”
I believe God is okay with hard questions, why questions, even accusatory questions. I find similar questions in Psalms where people cry out to God in anguish, sometimes in desperate anger. In those times, God sustains us. God comforts us. God carries us. Sometimes, God will give us a different perspective on the situation to understand it better.
I have desired many times, a sit down, face-to-face with Jesus asking questions, seeking understanding, seeking wisdom, or seeking reassurance. That hasn’t happened – yet. Someday it will. Then we will have an eternity to ask Jesus many things and learn from gim.
In the meantime, the Bible is full of answers, reassurances and promises. One such promise God has given me, not face-to-face, but heart-to-heart, that has carried me through many of those hard times of seeking answers is from Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
In the meantime, in the midst of all the craziness of the world we are experiencing, I believe a face-to-face conversation with Jesus would be a call to love and trust God; and to love one another. Tear down the walls that separate us and build bridges with one another. As the disciple Peter wrote a letter to Christians scattered over the world, he challenged us saying, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1Peter 3:8-9)
Spread a little kindness each day and let us change the world around us. I think that is what Jesus would call us to pursue daily in our lives.
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.