Where Was God? Where Are You?

The Phone Call

I will never forget the phone call my wife answered early that morning of January 16, 2006 – fourteen 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…”They’re dead!

It was a murder-suicide.

Hitting the Road

In just a few hours or less, my wife and I had left western Kentucky and were back in East Tennessee and our hometown (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 .40 cal. 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, even when one of them chose to start dabbling in witchcraft disguised as prosperity theology.

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 last-second pleas not to shoot.

Yes, God was there.

But 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 14 years ago; God’s way was avoided and man’s way was chosen.

Coincidence? You Decide.

At one point, as I was standing looking down at the place where bloody carpet had been ripped up, in my peripheral vision I caught a glimpse of a large Bible on a stand in the adjacent library off to the right of the master bedroom where the murder/suicide took place. Seeking some meaning, some comfort, I walked over to the open family Bible hoping to read something that would offer hope, even make some sense of what had just happened.

Yet, on January 16, 2006, the Bible was not opened to Psalm 23 … it was opened to Jeremiah 16.

Jeremiah 16:9-11 – “(9) For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, and in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride. (10) And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt shew this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? or what [is] our iniquity? or what [is] our sin that we have committed against the LORD our God? (11) Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith the LORD, and have walked after other gods, and have served them, and have worshiped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my law;”

Where was God? A better question might be, “Where are you?”



Filed under abuse, Life/Death, wisdom

10 responses to “Where Was God? Where Are You?

  1. “…witchcraft disguised as prosperity theology.”

    That will preach.

    May I please add this food for thought? And this is not to in anyway give a reason or excuse the horribleness of that tragic event.

    Depression lies.

    It can make you look in the mirror and truly believe that you, and everyone in your life, would be better off if you died.

    Depression lies so much. It convinces you, against everything you believe, that God doesn’t love you.

    And sometimes, people believe the lie.

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    • Totally agree. Thanks for the info.

      In this case, however, more was involved. No depression. Wealth, Greed, Anger, betrayal, and alcohol were more to blame.

      • Greg Settles

        I’ve never heard of “prosperity theology” linked to “witchcraft.” Could you elucidate?

        And since we are sixteen years removed from the event, if you care to say, what was the nature of the wealth, the greed, and the betrayal ?

      • Thanks for the questions, Greg. I’ll do my best to answer without naming names or getting too specific.
        When I linked prosperity theology to witchcraft, I did so based on the teaching that reality is what we speak it to be. Witchcraft very often uses spells and incantations to create a desired reality. More often than not, witches don’t pray to a god, but use “natural” forces to manipulate nature in their favor. Even if they believe in a god or goddess, the deity is not necessary for a spell to work. What is more common is the thinking that the equivalent of deity within is what is being tapped into.

        When it comes to the teachings of prosperity theology, God is subject to the demands of His creation, much like Nature is to the witch. By claiming something, demanding something, or simply having enough faith, they believe anything is possible, even creating what does not exist out of nothing. The best example is the belief taught by Kenneth Copeland and others that we are little gods because we have the DNA of God in us. Therefore, when we speak, if we have faith in our words, as God had faith in His Word, we can create just like Him. This is not only heresy but no different than witchcraft.

        And, for the record, the female of the story sent me a list of books to read. Most of them were either books by Kenneth Copeland or occultic. She justified her lifestyle because she had money. She equated money and possessions with blessing and being in God’s will. Ergo, if she has money, then God must approve of her.

        As to the “wealth, greed, and the betrayal,” abuse was going on and divorce was ultimately around the corner. However, she refused to leave the house because it was her identity, her place to socialize. She was holding off until other things took place so that she could also have access to additional money from him. The last email she received was from a psychic. He told her not to worry about her husband, she would be safe and she would be able to keep her house and all her things.

        These things (and more) have been kept from the public in order to spare their reputation and not to embarrass the family. But some things need to be discussed in order to keep things like this from happening again. If you live in an abusive situation, GET OUT! If you live for wealth, prestige, or pride, a fall is coming.

        The judgments of God may be slow, but they are sure.

      • Alcohol is a huge depressant, but yes, I get what you are saying.

        I think I’m always prompted to respond to posts like this because of my own experience with post-natal depression.

        Growing up Southern Baptist, clinical depression was not an actual thing.

        If you were depressed, it was because you were “in sin.”

        There is still a ton of stigma when it comes to clinical depression in Baptist churches.

      • Oh, I hate to hear that. Not all Baptist churches are like that, you know. But I will agree a lot of people think that way. It was a form of very legalistic and unbiblical thinking that led to Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children in a bath tub back in 2001. She was led to believe her post partum depression was due to a lack of faith, sin. She was afraid of her children growing up and dying and going to hell because of her sin, so she drowned them. Her story is one of the reasons for this blog.

        But I’m not that way. I have dealt with depression. I’ve taken meds. There are times when the brain needs physical help. Clinical depression is certainly a thing, and I’m not ashamed to say it from the pulpit.

  2. Reblogged this on a simple man of God and commented:

    My second reblog today. The first, confronting a misunderstanding of Scripture and what it teaches. This one, confronting a misunderstanding of God’s versus our own culpability and responsibility.
    Disclaimer: this one is harder to read, but just as important. Thank you, Anthony.


  3. Oh ouch, Anthony! I’m so sorry. That’s really painful stuff.

  4. That was a good one. Something the Apostle James might have written. It reminds me of Building codes. guys will avoid things, take short cuts and then the house caves in, or the water pipe bursts or the floor creeks. And people are mad. Why don’t we ourselves take a look at ourselves.

    Still it is a tragedy and we all also have a duty to clean up, to lift up and to hug those in need and not wave from a distance.
    Just yesterday while driving home I saw a lady who goes to a coffee house walking down the street. I have taken her home to her brothers many times, so I went around the block to help her, but she didn’t want help. she can be funny some times. Some times she will take a ride other times she doesn’t. So I could have simply said, why bother, but helping is not about her as much as it is about me. yes, she is the one in need, but its my heart that needs to be right, caring and willing to go the extra mile.
    IF someone would have gone the extra mile with many people most tragedy would be averted. the statement Love covers a multitude of sins is under stated.
    good Op.

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