The Phone Call
I will never forget the phone call my wife answered early that morning of January 16, 2006 – ten years ago today. It was the kind of phone call that scars you for the rest of your life, making every other call that comes in the middle of the night one you’re afraid to answer.
The phone rang, my wife answered, and all I could hear were screams coming from the receiver. What could finally be understood through the uncontrollable crying were words one’s brain has a hard time processing…and then the words from someone less hysterical saying, “They’re dead.”
It was a murder-suicide.
Back to Chattanooga
In just a few hours, or less, my wife and I were in Chattanooga (we broke a few speed limits). By the time we arrived the bodies were gone, but not the results of the shooting. It was a sight nothing on television or in the movies can adequately recreate. It was literally dumbfounding how much damage, how much carnage, could be unleashed by one person with just one handgun.
The walls, the ceiling, the floors, the floor on the level below, and even the garage below that – the effects were everywhere. Even the third floor of the massive home was not immune to the damage; that’s where I found a bullet lodged in a child’s bean bag.
Where Was God?
“Where was God?” some people asked. You might be tempted to ask the same thing. If God was real, why didn’t He do something? Why didn’t He stop this? Why did He let this happen to such a likable, popular couple? Why did children lose a father and a stepmother? Where was God?
Believe it or not, He was there the whole time, even long before the tragedy took place. He was there, letting a man and wife live as they chose, loving them by giving them their free will. He was there every time the conscience was stung, and every time it was seared. He was there, speaking through His Word, offering to guide, but never forcing.
God was there in the voice of those saying, “Don’t drink like that.” He was there in the voice of those saying, “Don’t stay here; he’s going to hurt you.” He was even there in the the last-second pleas to not shoot. Yes, God was there.
Here’s a question: Where was God the last time you made a bad choice? Where was God when you last idolized yourself by putting your wishes first? Where was God the last time you got angry and sinned, wounding your wife, your children, or a friend with an outburst you now regret? He was there; you just chose to do things your way, not His.
That’s what happened 10 years ago; God’s way was avoided and man’s way was chosen. And on a stand adjacent to where the murder and suicide took place, on January 16, there was an open Bible…opened to Jeremiah 16. Read it for yourself.
Where was God? A better question might be, “Where are you?”