Many of us will read the above unpunctuated words differently, it can of course be read as God is nowhere or God is now here and I am sure many Christians can perhaps associate with different times in their life when they may have felt both meanings! The Bible and particularly the psalms have plenty of cries to God saying where are you, indeed even Jesus on the cross felt abandoned by God. To contrast with this, the Bible is also full of times when God speaks or acts and makes himself known to numerous people in numerous ways, non more of course than in and through Jesus himself.
In April 2008 as I was coming to the end of my ministerial training at Northern College in Manchester and planning the move to minister in Liverpool, I was given the devastating news that I had testicular cancer and would need an urgent operation. For those of you who have gone through similar experience I am sure you will understand my initial thinking that this could result in my death. Telling my family was the hardest thing and many tears were shed.
I wondered what God was playing at as we had sold our house in Bury and if I was not well enough to work I would not have a job in ministry and hence not provide any income. And yet whilst coping with the feeling of not knowing if I would survive, I also felt that God was with me and that whatever happened I had the comfort of knowing that God and I were dealing with the cancer together.
I have been cancer free for 10 years and this week on Friday 19th Oct will hopefully see my last appointment at Christies in Manchester. What this experience has taught me is that we can all look back on our lives and perhaps see different times of joy and difficulties but I can say without doubt that God is now here as much as he has been throughout my life, indeed if not more. More not because of God but because of me being more open to experience His presence and steadfast love for me.
Looking back to remember, especially in November, is an important part of our year in order that we commemorate those lost in wars, with a view to us all creating a more peaceful present and future. Jesus said at the table “do this in remembrance of me” not for us to focus on the past but to know God is now here in the present.
May we all continue to live our lives in his presence and through it show the world the love of Christ and talk of his saving grace.
Your friend and servant