Later in the day a dear friend who now lives far away put out a prayer request on face book for one of her husband’s relatives who had been involved in a motorcycle accident and was fighting for his life. It wasn’t until the next day that a story in the paper made me realize that the accident I had heard the life squads responding to and the one that had injured my friend’s relative were one and the same. Truly the situation was hitting a little closer to home than I originally thought.
Sadly the injured man died as a result of his injuries, and even as arrangements were being made for his funeral a makeshift memorial was quickly developing on the side of the road near the spot where the accident had occurred. Not one, but two wooden crosses, one an intricately carved affair, were quickly being surrounded by flowers and other personal mementoes that obviously meant something to the friends who left them there. Even as I drove by the site on my way to work that afternoon I saw a red pickup truck parked near the spot and a man standing in front of the crosses, head bowed and hand over his eyes, grieving a loss that was personally hitting way too close to home.
A week passed, and Mother’s Day was soon upon us. As part of my family’s celebration we watched the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the story of a young boy’s search for answers in the wake of his father’s death in the horror of 9/11. I loved the movie, but it was the title that captivated me. In an effort to more fully understand its meaning I came across an interview with the author, who simply said that there were things in the novel that were loud and close, and likewise many things that were silent and far away.
I thought about that in relation to the accident that was weighing so heavily on my mind. As I sat on the patio that morning, the sirens were loud and the accident site was close. In the hearts of my friends in Florida, fear was loud and prayer was close. Surrounding the lives of the family and friends of the victim over the next several days, death was loud and memories were close. And to the sorrow of the wife left behind, her husband’s voice was silent and his touch was far away.
Too often we feel that way about God, that His voice is silent and His touch is far away. And yet we are surrounded by both on a daily and forever basis.
Oskar, the little boy in the movie, asks question s of his grandmother’s aged renter, a man who doesn’t speak but writes his answers on the pages of a small tablet he carries, or holds up one or the other of his hands for a “yes” or “no” response. His inability or refusal to vocalize his thoughts frustrates the little boy. We likewise bombard God with incessant questions, and although He always answer us, we get impatient when His response is not in our timing or doesn’t come in the way we expect.
Before his death, Oskar’s dad played a continual game of investigation with him, leaving him clues and encouraging him to look harder or in a different direction for answers to the questions he posed. Our Father does the same with us. Sometimes His silence is deliberate, to get us to dig a little deeper into a subject on our own or to look at the leadings He’s given us in a new way that causes us to see our life situations in a different light. Too often we rush the process, trying to make sense of a situation to which we haven’t yet accumulated all the information we need. Time is sometimes the missing puzzle piece that eventually causes all the others to suddenly fit together into a wonderful moment of discovery and revelation. God knows that the search for understanding cements His message in our minds and hearts in a way that a simple response on His part could never have done.
Many things are loud without being audible. Colors can be loud to get our attention, for instance, and actions speak even louder than words, so we‘ve heard. God uses both on a regular basis to communicate with us. When we feel that He is quiet and distant we need only consider that it was not by accident that His blood ran a brilliant red on our behalf, but rather His deliberate intent that it be shed to span the distance between us forever, an extremely loud expression of love from His heart to remind us that He is always incredibly close to His home in ours.
“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart…”
(Deuteronomy 30:14 AMP)