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Where is God?

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Every time my town has an event that draws a lot of people, from a Saturday’s farmer’s market to a festival or parade, a local pastor and members of his church are there, handing out gospel tracts.
During the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Brother Troy was on the corner, handing out tracts.

The one he gave me had an I.Q. test on the front with only one question. “GODISNOWHERE — What does this say?”

People either see “God is nowhere” or “God is now here.”

People either believe God is nowhere, or at least unimportant to their lives, or they believe God is now here, that he is alive and actively incarnates himself into the lives of people.

If God is nowhere, then I am just a random collection of cells, without a destiny or a reason for existence, without a creator and director. If God is nowhere, my pain or sorrows don’t have a purpose and my prayers have no direction. When I cry, I’m crying into the ether and no one greater than I hears or has the power to do anything about it.

If God is nowhere, then there is no such thing as justice. There’s no such thing as evil; nothing is good because there is no ultimate, universal standard, not if we are merely random beings.

If God is nowhere, then atrocities aren’t atrocious, because who’s to say genocide or slavery or sexual exploitation of children are wrong?

If God is nowhere, then what is hope and where does that notion come from? What causes people who are oppressed to sing? Why would anyone sing at all, or dream — or laugh?

If God is nowhere, then what do I do with my guilt and my shame — where did they even come from?

If God is nowhere, the thought of death holds only paralyzing fear and dread, inconsolable sorrow. If God is nowhere, there’s no comfort for the dying. Seventy or 80 or 90 years — and then what? Ashes scattered on the ground, blown into the wind or stuffed inside an urn?

If God is nowhere, the tediousness of life has no intrinsic or lasting joy, only fleeting moments of pleasure and escape. If God is nowhere, life is merely marking time, a countdown of days and hours until it’s over.

However, if God is now here, everything changes.
If you talk to most Christians, they can usually pinpoint a time, often even the date and place, when they knew that not only is God now here, but God, in the person of Jesus, is now here for them.

Some call it “getting saved” or being “born again.” I call it the moment Jesus came.

It’s the walking from darkness into the light, from chaos to order, meaninglessness to purpose, soul-death to spiritual life, finite into forever.

God is now here!

It’s gasping and grasping at the implications. God is now here — I’m forgiven.

God is now here — I’m not alone, even when I’m lonely.

God is now here — I have a champion, someone who thinks I’m lovely and worth loving, someone who knows me, someone who will carry me, hold on to me, fight and even die for me.

God is now here — my life, even if it’s a small life, still has purpose, a big purpose because it’s God’s purpose. My joys are God’s joys; he takes delight in what delights me.

God is now here — the pull of sin, while not gone, is lessened. There’s great joy in saying no to it, greater joy in saying yes to God’s laws.

The whole GODISNOWHERE thing supposedly started in 1995 with a sign outside a tent at the People’s Fair in Denver. It’s gimmicky, but it got people’s attention, sparking conversation and causing people to think.

Either God is nowhere or God is now here.

There can only be one option.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.