Summary: Questions about our life purpose are asked and answered.
I begin this morning with a question, “Are you a why, a what or a how person?”
What people ask: What do I need to do next? What do I need to do to get this job done? What do I need to do to get to this person to notice me? What can I do to get more people to church? What can I say to so and so to help them come to faith in God?
Or maybe you are a “how” person. They ask questions like:
How can I finish this project by 5 pm? How can I make this sermon both Biblical and interesting? How are we going to get everybody to where they need to be this afternoon? How can we get the money we need for Christmas presents? How can I help my friend understand that Jesus truly loves him?
Or maybe you are a why person. They ask questions like: Why did I have to come to church this morning? Why is Pastor Jim asking us all these questions? Why did Ford finish first, second, and third in last weekend’s NASCAR race? Why did she wear those shoes with that outfit? Why did my close friend have to die that way?
Some of us are probably what people and other of us are probably how people and some of us are probably why people. Most likely, we are a mixture of all three.
However, when it comes to matters of faith and life, any question that stands across our life path is one that needs to be addressed in some way that will help us move forward by faith with God. That is the reason for this summer sermon series.
My purpose in this series was to answer questions that people had of God in a manner that would strengthen your faith and deepen your relationship with Lord. I hope and pray that it has.
We conclude our series this morning with a couple of questions that are asked perhaps as much as those related to suffering and evil – questions about the presence of God and our life purpose:
“Why does it sometimes feel like God is not near and other times it feels like he is right beside you and even holding you up? “
“God why do you keep me here? I have failed You so many times, been unkind, been unforgiving, and not happy with myself. Knowing that You are so immensely generous only brings me back to the question. “God, why do you keep me here?”
Our text for the morning tells the story of two people, devastated by the death of Christ, who experiences what our first questioner asks. We read in verse 17, “They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.” I think that we can easily imagine the slumped shoulders and the deep sadness on their faces. God seems a thousand miles away and the hopes that were so high just a few days earlier are dashed to the ground.
Why does it feel like God is not near and other times it feels like he is right beside you and even holding you up?
The inspirational “Footprints in the Sand” gives us a personal perspective that many have found helpful over the years:
Footprints in The Sand read here
According to the website, footprints in the sand.com, the author of this moving poem was a woman named Mary Stevenson who wrote the poem back in the 1936 at the age of 14 as a reflection on the events of her life. (It was only later in life that she sought , with encouragement by friends, and was granted, rights of authorship by a scientific examination of an early hand-written copy of the poem.)
But what does the Bible have to say about all of this? Why does it seem that God is often far away and at other times closer to us? Let’s look closer at our main text and a few other passages as well.
In Isaiah 55 we read in verses 8 and 9, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Then, over in 1 Corinthians 1, Saint Paul gives us a parallel perspective, in verse 25, to our question as he talks about the gospel and the responses to it that he has encountered in his ministry. “This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.”
One of the reasons is that God seems both near and far is that God’s ways and thoughts are far above ours. He is God and while He wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us, He is beyond us. His plans, his work, are far more comprehensive than we can imagine.