A guest post by Timothy Schmekel
My friend shared this last Easter he has something like 8 more years to serve. I know it’s long but worth reading.
By Dennis (an inmate in a Federal Prison)
I remember as a child hearing a sermon given by an old priest whose name I’ve long forgotten, that has stuck with me these many years. It was focused around the question, “Why, God?” How many times have we cried out that very question, “Why, God?” Any one of us can recall the particular situations that brought us to asking it; illness, deaths, financial distresses, any number of trials we’ve encountered.
“Why, God; why is my child sick?”
“Why, God; why did I lose my job?”
“Why, God; why do I have to go to prison?”
“Why, God; why me?!”
Who could blame any person for asking such questions? It is human to do so, especially for those of us who consider ourselves friends of God. We demand to know why our Friend is allowing these things to happen to us when we know it is within His power to deliver us from them. We question our own faithfulness. “Maybe I don’t pray hard enough or maybe I’m not worthy.” And we’re not. Not because of anything we do or don’t do. Then we’re led to question His faithfulness as we scream, “Why, God; why me?!”
During this season of Easter, and especially the time leading up to it, I meditate on the next thing this old priest said: “How often have you cried out, ‘Why, God; why me; why do you love me; why did you die for me?’”
That question, “Why God; why me?” rings so loudly in my heart when I contemplate Christ and him crucified. It deafens me when I willingly separate myself from God through sin. It even resonates in me when I feel like I am doing a pretty decent job walking in his ways.
He knew us and he loved us even while we were in our mother’s womb. He knows us and he loves us so greatly that he knows the number of hairs on our head. I could name five people who love me most on this Earth and not one of them can tell me how many hairs I have on my head. So when I ask “Why me?” I know why. Because He loves me. I don’t have the fancy theological answer as to why, though I am sure there is one. BECAUSE HE LOVES ME! For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…that we might have eternal life with him. John 3:16 always sounded so cliché to me, a scribble for poster boards at sporting events. And it will always sound cliché to those who have not humbled themselves and realize that none of us are worthy of his grace and his mercy. Nothing we have done or not done makes us worthy of his grace, to receive that which we do not deserve; His love, His salvation; eternal life. And nothing we have done or not done makes us worthy of mercy, to not receive that which we deserve; condemnation, eternal separation.
Here recently God has allowed me to see a new facet to the “Why God” question. Same two words, “why” and “God” but no comma in between; “Why God?” In other words, “Why do you choose to do the ‘God thing?’”
In the last year I was given the opportunity to reconnect with a former friend. Our friendship originally came to an end because of my own selfishness, bed decisions and bad behavior. I did not treat this woman with respect and certainly not in a Godly manner, thus ending our friendship years ago. At one point last year our paths crossed again and communication opened up. After a few months of correspondence the topic of our past was finally approached as did the topic of my current relationship with the Lord. This caused her to make commentary like, “I know how it is. You guys go to prison and all of a sudden you find Jesus. Well, I don’t forgive you. You knew what you were doing…etc.” Thus ended our correspondence and our friendship once again…from her end at least. Essentially, in so many words, what she was saying or asking was, “Why God? Why the ‘God thing’?”
How many people who now are in a relationship with God Almighty, especially those who are there after long periods of great separation through sin and hurting those love most, know that those who do not understand, or at least strive to understand, God’s love, His mercy, His grace, will always hold your past against you and question you “Why God?” How do you answer that question? Have you sat down and thought how you might?
When I am asked why, I think of the lepers cured by Christ. I am a leper to society and Christ heals me and embraces me and dwells with me as he did Simon the Leper.
When I am asked why, I think of the blind cured by Christ. I was blind and now I see; my eyes fixed on the Light of the World; my eyes opened by the Word of the Flesh.
When I am asked why, I think of the lame cured by Christ. My sin crippled me; it kept me confined to my mat; forced to look upon those who loved me most as they stepped around me and were forced to bare me on their shoulders. But now I can walk the Path, I can leap, and I can lead.
Today, on this Easter Sunday, I am so honored to be here with you men. Of course I miss my family during this time and the traditional gatherings we have on this day. But what better place could I be than with men who I KNOW have cried out “Why, God; why me?” To be with men who are lepers, or blind, or lame but who focus on and reach out to the One who heals us because he loves us. I am so proud to call you friends and brothers. It is with a joyous heart today I ask “Why, God; why have you blessed me so?!