Recently I had the opportunity to visit a church while I was on vacation. The service was different, but not unusual except for one thing. About halfway through the pastor’s sermon, an amber alert started being sent out to everyone’s cell phone. Now, if you’ve never had the pleasure of receiving an amber alert, let me fill you in: You receive a message, that usually appears much like a text, giving information such as the name of the missing child, where they we last seen, and a description of the vehicle they might be in. However, instead of using your text ringtone, you are startled with a frightening noise I can only describe as being similar to the “most annoying sound in the world” Lloyd makes in “Dumb and Dumber” (look it up, it’s a great scene). It’s the most startling, unnerving, and haunting sound you’ve ever heard, and EVERYONE got the alert, all at different times, ALL at full volume. No joke, this went on for about thirty minutes.
Over this past year, one of my favorite digital Christian periodicals is, “The Christian Post.” Full of up-to-date news articles that affect Christianity and the Church, I have found the articles to be informative and solidly written. I, however, almost wish I had not read the post written on Tuesday, October 16 of this year. For in it, capturing the lead story was this headline:
Thanksgiving Morning of 2016 I almost died…
Okay, so I didn’t almost die. I didn’t even get hurt. But I was a few seconds shy of being in a car wreck that could have cost me my life.
That morning, I had to run up to the restaurant, at which I was a manager, to give out the last catering dinner for a family who had ordered it but could not pick it up until that morning. Driving home, I was listening to music, just cruising and thinking about the day that was ahead of me. Breakfast was cooking at the house, lunch and dinner were planned at my family’s house and it was going to be a good day. As I got close to the house, I approached a green light. I was about to pass through the intersection when a car came speeding through his red light, bounced past the intersection, lost control and ended up flipping several times before coming to a stop in a drainage ditch, turned over on its side. As I slammed on my breaks and whipped into the nearest parking lot, my heart was pounding. Was this guy okay? Was there anyone else in the car? What was going on that caused him to speed, run a red light, and end up flipped on his side in a ditch?
“I remain in the faith because I have tried all else and know without doubt it is real. I remain sick because I believe in a God that can, but will not. I remain tired because I believe in a God that can speak, but will not.”
This was a quote from message sent to me a few years ago from a man desiring to vent and coveting my prayers.
This is an issue much more common than you may realize. To have unwavering belief in God, but to feel completely removed from His presence. No answers to prayer, no guidance, no open doors, no healing, no happiness.
And yes, it can be frustrating. No, beyond that, it can be torturous. On the one hand, we KNOW God is capable of all things. How easy it should be for him to speak and change our lives for the better! But on the other hand, we know SO LITTLE about God, about His plans for our lives, about what He will do in the future with our present and past.
And so, a season arrives when we feel like God has abandoned us.
What are we to do when we feel this way? What are we to say to others who feel this way?
If you are a Cleveland Indians fan, your fondest memory is probably watching Jake Taylor bunt, allowing Willie Mays Hayes to score the winning run of the World Series. An event only overshadowed by the fact that that was the ending to the 1989 blockbuster “Major League.”
The other, and more real, major event, being the time that a player crawled through a ceiling to retrieve a bat.
The story goes that during the second game of a four game series against the Chicago White Sox, White Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped off that Indians’ batter Albert Belle was using a corked baseball bat. Under the rules of Major League Baseball, a manager may challenge one opponent's bat per game. Lamont challenged Belle's bat with umpire Dave Phillips, who confiscated the bat and locked it in the umpires' dressing room to be analyzed after the game.
Indians’ manager Mike Hargrove, knowing that the bat was most likely corked, was quite worried. But relief pitcher Jason Grimsley knew exactly what to do, and it wasn’t to sit tight and let things play out.