Looking for God in all the right places

by Jim Morgan

Many people out there believe that God has quit speaking to them. I have been in that boat for a year or two now. It is incredibly frustrating to not be hearing from the LORD and to not be sure as to the whys. Crazy enough but this seem to be the way that God works in my life.

I was raised in church. I know all the lingo, mannerisms, and I know more Bible and theology than most professionial ministers. I don’t say this to gloat. When I was growing up I was a sponge. In order to keep out of fights as a kid I learned to mimic my surroundings and use that knowledge to my advantage. I can bullshit my way around just about any conversation in religious matters.

In order to keep me on my toes you have to keep shocking me, keep giving me new situations and surroundings to keep me interested. If you don’t I slip into boredom and the whole church thing becomes an act. I can BS my way thru the Christian walk so that all the folk in the church believe something about me that may or may not be true.

Let’s face it, truthfully, the typical Christian walk is not that difficult. Don’t drink, cuss or chew, or go out with girls that do, buy a fish symbol for your car and buy the latest bauble from Jesus Inc. and you are pretty much set. (None of these are really rules imposed by God, only by man.) The typical preacher only has about 25 real sermons in his portfolio all the rest are just repeating the same things in different way. Oh and you need to be in church every Sunday of the world to listen to the preacher and everyone else there repeat things that everyone else is saying and take up an offering.

That setup doesn’t work for me. I need more in my walk that that. I have had moments in my spiritual walk where I felt that I was in the presence of God, walking with him, talking with him, eating lunch with him. Times like these are the times that make life worth living. They are the spice of life.

The problem is that I am not exactly sure how they happen. Sure there is Bible reading, prayer and all the usual spiritual rites but for me there also seems to be an effort on my part which includes writing poetry and essays and being there for people who need me, i.e. me doing what God wired me to do, being the me that God made me to be.

Being one of the “normal” Christians has never been a thing that I like to do. God doesn’t seem to be with those who know the whole routine, know the Bible backwards, forwards, start-in-the-middle-and-go-both-ways. He seems to leave the people who read Vines and Strongs more than the Bible and those who have it all figured out to their own follies and as a result most of the “churches” out there resemble mausoleums rather than places where one goes to worship a living, vibrant, God.

As I ponder on a nearly 40 year walk with God I find that nearly none of my “God Moments” happened in a church and very few of them happened with people that most people would say were “God People.”

Last Sunday I had to make an emergency run to a town two hours away to minister to a family that had a family member that was near an unexpected death. The whole drive up there was spent in prayer and in worry and in the ill-fated hope that everything would be all right. At about 11:30 or so the news came in that everything was not going to be all right and while there was a slim hope it really wasn’t much hope at all.

I had to leave, as I had to go to work the next day and still had a two hour drive home. As I was saying my goodbyes the son of the one dying, a man I just barely know, gave me a huge bear hug and welled up with tears. I just held him. All I could think of to say was be sure to get some rest.

His mother passed a few hours after we left the hospital.

Now me being a little on the analytical side, especially when I am exhausted, had a tough time figuring out why he gave me such a huge hug and broke down on me when he barely knew me. It really tweaked my melon. Pondering on this made me acutely aware that something was going on. Something that maybe I needed to pay attention to.

Flash forward a day or two to the day of the funeral. The son, who is a gifted musician, played a few songs during the funeral service and one of those songs stopped me in my tracks. It was not a song about death or his mother, it was a song about not hearing from God no matter how much Son tried to hear him. The plan was for him to play Patti Lovelace’s ‘Help me say goodbye.’ His decision to play the song he did was a last second change to the lineup.

Now let me back up for a second and tell you that Son is not what one would call a “saint.” He has addiction issues and is more than a little rough around the edges. He is a rough, a misfit, a ragamuffin, in a word a sinner, just like you and me.

He told me later that he wrote the song in what was perhaps the lowest point of his life. He was detoxing and the world was collapsing around him. He was in physical pain, he was in emotional pain, he was in spiritual pain.

I told him some of my own struggle with God and with the “spiritual” life and that his song really touched me down in the very depths of my soul and that for the first time in a very long time I felt the presence of God right there in that funeral service.

His reponse was priceless, “No shit?”

I said something to the effect of “I guess God uses the rejects.”

And he said “Let him use the hell outta me then.”