Altar Call –
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. + + +