Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 19, 2020
“Daddy, Where is God?”
I remember it as though it was yesterday. I was driving our car. Our son David, almost three, was standing on the front seat beside me, his left arm around my neck. He broke the silence suddenly by asking, “Daddy, where is God?”
The little boy’s question stunned me. David had heard me and his mother speak often about God so it must have dawned on him that he had never seen God. Now he wanted his daddy to tell him where God was. Though it would have been true, I figured it would be of little help to tell him that God is everywhere so I replied, “Son, God is in heaven.”
“Where is heaven?” he asked. “Heaven is a real place somewhere in the world but we cannot see it until we die,” I responded, inwardly hoping he would be satisfied and stop asking me these profound questions. I was only 23 at the time, ill-equipped to explain to a child or anyone the omnipresence of God. Thankfully, he had no more questions that day.
David died a few months later. Since his death, for 64 years, I have known and felt the presence of God in my life, some days more remarkably than others. If asked David’s question these days, I would answer by describing some of the “holy moments” of my life when God’s presence seemed extraordinarily real.
One of those moments occurred on the day David died. He died in my arms about 4:30 in the morning. Dean and I had been up all night tending to David as he suffered restlessly. As David breathed his last breath, Dean roused from fitful sleeping and said to me, “It’s time for his medicine.” With a broken heart I replied, “Honey, he won’t need any more medicine.” The sun was rising as I laid his lifeless body on the bed.
Within two hours, there was a knock on our front door. I thought it was the undertaker whom I had called. But it was one of my seminary professors whom I had not called. A tall, blond Swede, Doctor Nels Ferre said, “I have come to see David.” I said, “Sir, David died a little while ago.” He said, “I know; that’s why I have come.” I am still not sure how he found out; I am content to believe God sent him.
Going into the bedroom with us, Doctor Ferre quickly lifted David’s body up in his arms and prayed a simple prayer, thanking God for giving David to us for three years and offering him back to God. I have not seen that done before or since, but it was stunningly beautiful. Then, after putting David’s body back on the bed, and putting his arms around Dean and me, he said, “I have come this morning to tell you that God hurts like you hurt.” After praying for us, he went on his way.
Where was God? God was in our home that morning, having sent one of his servants to remind us that God had not used leukemia to kill David but he was hurting with us in our sorrow. Our home was hell that morning but God met us there, in the hallways of hell, and led us out into the sunshine of his eternal love. God was there that morning. I know it.
For some reason God likes to manifest Himself in our home as He did when David died. Several years later, after God had gifted us with four more sons, our marriage had become a disaster. Outbursts of anger spoiled every day. We were sick and tired of each other. Then one day when we were in the kitchen exchanging insults, we fell to our knees beside the breakfast table, crying and asking each other for forgiveness, and pleading with God to save our marriage. It became a holy moment of reconciliation, a moment of relief and great joy. Where was God? He was in that kitchen gluing our broken relationship back together. I knew He was present then and I still know it.
God came to our home on another less dramatic occasion when our sons were teenagers. A stranger knocked on our front door early one Saturday morning. He told me his name and asked if he could speak with me for a few minutes. Inside he shared that his teenage son was a drinking partner with one of my sons.
“Last night, he came home drunk again at 2:00 am so I decided to whip him. That turned out to be a mistake because he wound up beating the hell out of me.” I realized then why there were fresh scratches on his face. He paused, wiping tears from his cheeks. Then he said, “I guess you are not happy with your son’s drinking, and you being a preacher, maybe you can help me figure out what to do. I am at my wits’ end.”
We talked and prayed together for an hour. We met again several times, praying together and asking God to help us become the fathers our sons needed us to be. The man and I became good friends.
He and his family did not attend church anywhere. Six months later he led his family down to the altar one Sunday morning and they gave their lives to Jesus. Our sons did not stop drinking right away but we, their fathers, became good friends, brothers in Christ, and God helped us become better and wiser fathers. Our sons would later become responsible men.
I can close my eyes and still hear that man knocking on my door. Only a compassionate God, who wanted the best for us and our sons, could have brought us together that Saturday morning. Where was God? He was knocking on our door so that two frustrated fathers could help each other find the grace we needed to guide our sons in the ways of the Lord.
If you, like little David, are wondering where God is, you don’t need to go to some church to find Him. He is probably in your home, ready to help you. If He is not there now, then listen because that is probably Him knocking on your door. Let Him in. You will be amazed at what He can do once you are ready to let Him help you. + + +