It was a dark night. Not the kind of dark created by a moonless night when the stars are hidden behind the clouds. It was the kind of dark created by sadness when hope is hidden behind the clouds of despair.
A loved one of mine was lost.
Not that I couldn’t find her.
The problem was that I did find her.
Emotional pain will drive a person to do things that under normal conditions they would never do. And that’s what had happened to her.
Living in an abusive relationship had taken its toll and so she ran. We wouldn’t hear from her for days.
For me, the anxiety of not knowing was worse than that of knowing. My mind chased every possibility into dark corners. My knowledge of human nature caused me to conger up monsters that consume lost souls.
Then I got an anonymous phone call late one night telling me where she was and that she needed help. I got in my car, heart pounding and tears already pooling.
I didn’t have a plan. Didn’t know what I was going to say or do.
Driving slowly down unfamiliar, poorly lit, streets I finally see her vehicle parked at an odd angle, along with several rundown cars, outside the house I’d been looking for.
I quietly exit my car. Approaching the dim house, I feel my throat constrict. My breathing is shallow.
Knocking lightly on the back door, I take a step back, not knowing what to expect. The weight of the pistol I’d slipped in my pocket providing only token security.
I step to the door and knock again.
A young woman opens the door and peers at me through bleary, uncomprehending eyes. The acrid smell of marijuana hits me like a hard slap in the face. I look over her shoulder and see a group of people sitting on the floor around a coffee table, intently focused on whatever was on the table.
I resist the urge to burst through the door and try to execute a “grab and snatch” operation.
“What do you want?” The girl finally has enough brain synapses connect to ask a question.
I tell her who I am and who I want to see.
“Well she doesn’t want to see you,” the girl says with a slur. “Why don’t you just leave her alone?”
Her response sends my heart reeling. I feel like I’m lying in my coffin and someone has hammered two nails into the lid.
Tears slip from the corner of my eyes.
“Will you please just tell her that I’m here?” I hear the plaintive sound of my voice as if from far away.
The girl rolls her eyes in obvious disdain of me and closes the door.
I’m not sure if I’ve been dismissed or if she heard my desperate plea and decided to grant my request.
I look at the ground and watch a tear fall from my face and hit my shoe.
God, where are you?! How many times have I begged you to intervene? How many sleepless nights have I spent in prayer to you? Don’t you hear me? Don’t you care?
The door opens a bit. My face jerks up to see the one I love standing with her hand on the doorjamb to steady herself. Another nail in my coffin.
Moments tick by with nothing said.
Finally, in a voice weary with life but also altered by chemicals, she asks, “Why don’t you leave me alone?”
The carpenter’s hammer comes down again with a deafening blow.
I can no longer hold my tears back. They stream down my face carrying with them the ache of a broken heart.
My voice breaks as the words pour out in a tumult, “You don’t belong here. Please just come home. We can work something out. I love you.”
I look into her eyes to see something familiar but see only lifelessness.
“Just leave me alone. I’m where I want to be.” And she closes the door.
Darkness envelopes my soul as I feel the final nails hammered into the coffin lid.
I drive home blindly, noticing nothing. I dread telling all this to my wife.
When I arrive at home the sun is peaking over the eastern horizon.
Walking into the house, I find my wife asleep on the couch. She stirs at the sound of my entrance.
The look on my face tells her all she needs to know. We sit on the couch, holding each other, crying uncontrollably.
When I’m finally able to draw a controlled breath, I say, “I’m not going to work today. I just can’t.”
She decides to take the day off with me and we’re left with the question of what to do with ourselves. We finally decide to take a trip to Reelfoot Lake to observe the bald eagles that nest there during the winter.
It is a cold, crisp February day, without a cloud in the sky. We ride the entire ninety minute trip in silence, lost in our own thoughts.
Once we arrive at the lake and walk in the sharp air and the brilliant sun, I forget about everything except the beauty and majesty of the bald eagles. The speed and balance of their aerial displays are breathtaking.
About an hour into our hike, we are standing on a pier that juts out into the lake. The wind is in my face and the sun makes me squint. I’m focusing on a perching bald eagle.
Suddenly something happens that I have to this day been unable to adequately explain. (I’m a logical person and everything has to be explained.)
In my mind’s eye I see a curtain being pulled back. I sense that it is heaven that I am looking into. I notice a figure in the corner on his knees. It is the Saviour.
His face is flush and his eyes reddened by the tears he is openly shedding. He is sad. He is heartbroken.
I follow the direction of his gaze and see he is looking at my loved one. I begin crying.
In my own pain and grief I had forgotten that He was as sad and heartbroken as I was over the one I love. I had forgotten about His tears.
I don’t know if you’ve been there or not. That place of wondering where God is and why he doesn’t do something.
If you have, let me assure you He sees, He hears, He cares.
Just as surely as He was there when Job lost everything, or when the children of Israel cried out for hundreds of years while in Egyptian bondage, He is there when you and I cry out to Him.
It’s just that God exists in a place without the dimensions of time or space. They mean nothing to Him, though they mean everything to us.
We get upset when things don’t happen in our time frame, but God doesn’t consider time. He deals with situations in their own context and manages them as He sees best.
We must trust, even when we don’t understand.
“I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them.” Exodus 3:7-8.
“This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him.” Psalm 34:6.