A few years ago after a show, I went backstage to find a 16-year-old guy sitting in the hallway by the green room. He was a rough looking kid. Dark circles under his eyes- tired- angry- and confirming the very thoughts in my head he spoke up first and said- "I just got out of juvi and I came straight here."
Of course he did! Because I somehow attract people straight up out of prison and other institutions of brokenness- it's like I have a target on my back and they have a honing device. So OF course he left prison and came straight to this church, sat in the back row and decided to make his way back to the hallway of my dressing room.
He said that if all that stuff I said on stage was true- why was the world so jacked up? How could he possibly believe in a God who would abandon us to this kind of evil? He told me he wanted to believe what I was saying, but he saw no evidence of God showing up anywhere.
I stopped and took a deep breath. Waiting for the right words to come. Because I know how the kid feels sometimes.
Really God? Really?
I didn't want to give him a token answer. A scripture verse that was supposed to make it all go away and make the world's evil make sense in one fatal swoop. A dogmatic statement or an apologetic argument that might guilt him, persuade him, terrify him or logically break him down into belief. I didn't even want to tell him that Jesus loved him. Instantly- I saw all the easy words hanging out in mid-air in front of me; words I knew I was not supposed to speak because they seemed hollow. Not sufficient enough to capture what the kid was really asking for.
I knew he actually wanted and needed something different. I just didn't know exactly what until I opened my mouth and it came out.
" You want to know why you don't see God in the midst of all the world's brokenness? You are looking for something too big. A pie-in-the-sky-magical-miracle God to show up and stop the evil. And while I want that too, and believe God can do it if God so chooses- historically- God doesn't show up and stop evil... He shows up and walks us through evil. And he promises to defeat it. And then? He sends people."
The kid looked at me like I was about to give him a sermon. I actually didn't really know what I was going to say- I just kept opening my mouth.
"Look- there are security guards in the back of the building with weapons to protect all these people in here tonight. And yet- you are sitting right here in front of my dressing room. I could be a girl coming off stage who doesn't give a crap about you. Or I could've come off stage pissed off that you are sitting by my door. Or scared of you. Or just a girl with enough Christian-esse in my repertoire to offer you a lame token scripture verse or prayer and send you on your way- hoping that someone else would deal with you- like your frigging caseworker. But you know what? None of that has happened. The security guards haven't caught you. And I actually care about who you are and your story enough to not chase you away- or be afraid of you- or give you some b.s. answer to try and get you on your way- hoping someone else will take on the kid straight out of juvi. So... there's your evidence that God is real. This should have gone a totally different way for you."
At this- he laughed and for the first time I saw the kid that he was supposed to be. The light that was inside of him. And I learned a lot from what the Holy Spirit said through me. Sometimes you open your mouth and the words come- and they are way too smart or profound or beautiful to be your own words- and you get to learn from the very things being spoken out of your own mouth. This was one of those times.
I finished by telling him that God is most evidenced in people. The fact that the world has not self-imploded; that human beings have not annihilated one another; this is evidence of God's supreme presence, love and mercy making itself known through His people. Left to our own devices- with no presence of God- we would do exactly as evil would have us do: kill, steal and destroy.
The VERY fact that we are HERE co-existing not segregating, growing not shrinking, advancing not declining, living not languishing away as we steal, kill and destroy one another is, to me, great evidence of God's divine love and mercy at work every single day. To me, the very fact that we have not all pulled the trigger in some shape, form or fashion is enough evidence that there is someone bigger than us infusing us with a light that beats darkness.
"So- we are sitting here together in a hallway. You- a kid straight out of jail who has come back into a part of this huge building where you are not supposed to be. And me- a mom, a wife, a normal girl who actually cares enough to not go get security. I mean- the fact that we are both sitting here smiling now- to me has nothing to do with the fact that you are a rule-breaker and I am a lover of people- it has everything to do with the fact that God is real and shows up. Did any of the bad stuff around us go away? No. But here we are sharing a holy moment in a hallway together instead of living in fear or hatred of one another. And that- to me- is evidence enough that God is real."
On a day like today, where innocent people have lost their lives to senseless cowardice and pure evil, it is natural to doubt God. It is natural to be angry. It is human nature to wonder when all the madness of the world will end- to wonder why God isn't showing up and to think about whether God could even be real in light of the brokenness around us.
And yet it is on days like today when the absolute BEST shines forth from people. People are brave. Courageous. Selfless. Strong. Resilient. Compassionate. Empathetic. And filled with hope. Strangers bandaging the wounds of another; opening their houses to those who have no place to go; running into the fire to bring someone's mom, dad, brother or sister out of the flames. People are good. Light flows forth. And we share a million holy moments.
If what happened in Boston today is evil...
Then the response of every first responder, marathon runner, neighbor and friend who reached out to do whatever they could is Holy.
Sometimes I am reminded that God is real simply because we have not all pulled the trigger.
That we are here- and that the best shines forth during our darkest hours- is a testament to the God who shows up and does exactly what he promises to do in the holy scriptures... He walks through the valley of the shadow of death with us.
You may not see his face. You might just see a police officer. Or a pastor. Or a stranger.
But when you do- remember- God shows up. Now one way, now another.
Want evidence of God today? Look at HIS people.
That humanity thrives- loves-cares-gives-rebuilds-rebuilds- and rebuilds is evidence that where evil shows its face- holiness answers back. Always.
"Evil does not define humanity. If it did- we'd all be cowards and murderers. We are not. Don't lose heart. Evil does not win." @jennysimmons