God! Hey God, why don't you love me any more? Why are you so cruel and distant? Do my tattered clothes offend you? Do I wreak of sweat and urine? Am I grotesque with my paper thin skin, where track marks map my descent?
I weep and I rail; I plead for just a glimpse of your face, a touch from your robe; and you are not there.
On every street corner, the signs blare that you are the answer, but none of them even know what my questions are. All of the stuffed shirts throw your name around; you have solved all of their problems, like the time a bird crapped on their Lexus.
My father, as he drives from his big house in his expensive car to his prestigious job, listens to the religious station on the radio. God can do anything he explains to me. But he has never woken in the gutter, in a pool of his own blood and vomit, with a needle sticking out of his arm.
All around me people parrot platitudes and mindlessly recount things that happened long ago, to a friend of a neighbor of their brother-in -law.
But I am human flotsam, even the alcoholics don't want to hang out with me, and consider me more despicable than themselves. They look down on me, as they recall their stories of drunk driving and public humiliation; but nothing like the garbage that I have become.
I am a sermon topic, a right winged blow-hards topic of the week. They all are so much better, none would have fallen into this pit with me.
But I was there with them; worshiping their twisted caricature of you; wondering how someone could be so stupid as I stepped over dirty smelly people lying in the gutter. “Hey, didn't you used to go to that church? The big monstrosity on the corner; the one that lobbied to have our shelter closed down because it was depressing property values? Didn't you argue for tougher drug laws?” Yes that was me. Even the “liberal” do-gooders ridicule me. “Where is God now? Jesus saves, but I guess just not you. Maybe if you dumped your superstition you would be less of a hypocrite”.
Why did you even let me be born? I trusted you, I believed in you. Even when I was young I adored you. And even when they told me of your darker side; the crusades, inquisitions, witch trials, drowning Pharaoh's army, the battle of Jericho, hell; I stood by you, I defended you. It did not matter how much you strayed from my ideal, I never abandoned you; but you have dropped me like a bad rock in my time of trouble.
Why won't you answer me? Where are you? I need you, there is nobody else. Nobody cares; my father threw me out, the church abandoned me, and those who normally care about the lost and destitute take great joy in my fall.
The gang members that sell me the poison that has eaten my soul beat me.
They make me do horrible and degrading things for the next fix.
They laugh as they pass me around.
They have tattooed me with their mark. and bruised and cut me.
I can't keep anything down and soil myself. All of my joints feel like they are on fire, and I ache constantly. My heart pounds and falters, my breath is rancid and shallow.
I can't sleep and I am so exhausted. My ears are ringing, and in the ringing I hear voices; my eyes blur and I see things that aren't there. I have the taste of a thousand misadventures in my mouth.
Why won't you let me rest? I am dead already.
The police herd us like cattle, because we offend the good people of the town. They throw us into cells without even a foam sheet to lie on; the stones and cracks in the cement pierce and tear our flesh.
I am frail and wane, no strength is in me and my clothes hang on by wretched frame. The towns people are just glad to have me off the streets; they point to my incarceration and brag how they are really cleaning up the place.
They tear my clothes manhandling me, they smoke my cigarettes, confiscate the money in my pockets, the drugs I had on me “mysteriously” disappeared. I had a watch once.
God! Hey God, You do love me You sent someone to pay my bail? Someone from that small church on the edge of town? The one we used to ridicule as preaching a social gospel. It is your will that they bind up the afflicted and set the captives free? He says you told him that he would find me here, when he prayed so desperately to become closer to you? He has brought food and bandages; enough for all.
“Shame on you for beating these precious children of God!” , He proclaims. “They have no place to lay without injury and many of them are naked. God has given you your sword to protect His people, not to abuse them.”
I am going with him? They have a family that will treat me with patience and love? Who will keep me from the pushers and the gang bangers until I am stronger?
When I am stronger I will tell the others that the big church on the hill has been selling a story other than the gospel. That God loves them, that He is desperate, He travails over their suffering. That His servants prepare a banquet in their honor and they are all welcome. His story has always been about love.
We will tell the big church what God has done and what He says is important. That He does not desire their incense and right doctrines, but justice and mercy. That you cannot claim to love God and yet hate your neighbor.
He does not exclude the afflicted, even if it is by their own hand. He has gone searching for me as I have chased my own pleasures. God's grace is without limit. He heard me when I screamed and railed. he loved me when I was calling Him names and holding Him in contempt.
I will, one day at a time, and only with your help, live an upright life and reach out to those who have not yet experienced your love, and I will tell everyone of the depths I have fallen and how you lifted me to your embrace.
There is plenty of food, shelter abounds; God has made provision for all of His children, there are poor and hungry people because we are greedy, not because God is inadequate. All are welcome in the presence of the LORD. He delights in all of His children and if we worship Him we will do the same.
He will restore all of creation, and every person ever born will share in His love.
Nations and empires are of no consequence. The earth and all of its inhabitants are the LORD's.
This is phenomenal news, for only God loves every creature with an unending love.
Even the wealthy will be blown away with the greatness of God. The poor will be comforted and lavished with gifts. Those that the world counts as beyond redemption will share in the blessings of our God.
The universe bends toward justice, and the glory of God will fill the whole earth, regardless of how hopeless it now looks. There will be no lack and all of creation will praise the LORD.
They will all have a story about the wonders he has worked in their lives, stories to tell their children and grandchildren, because He has made us free.