What Happens in Vegas
I have a friend, lets will call him Mark. He us not a Christian yet but I have had many opportunities to talk with him. He is a smoker, so I could always catch him in his rocker on the front porch. That is where we had our best conversations.
One day, I invited him to breakfast. I had been praying for he and his wife and their children and I wanted to have his attention, look him in the eye and have a good, meaningful, gospel conversation.
It was a solid two-hour conversation over breakfast. After we had eaten and the waitress had taken away our empty plates and we were sipping coffee he leaned back and asked me a question about God that I could tell came from somewhere deep in his soul.
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That’s not true. What happens in Vegas never stays in Vegas…it always follows you home… You can never drive away and leave your conscience behind. That’s not how it works…
He said; “I had gone to Vegas. I had gambled away everything and I had just enough money to get home. I felt empty and defrauded and I was at the bottom. I was driving through the Nevada desert all night and I prayed to God to show himself to me. Nothing happened.”
“Well,” he chuckled, “I hit a rabbit, but that is all. What do you make of that? Why didn’t God show himself to me?”
How would you have answered his question? Have you ever felt really burdened with your life and with your choices and cried out to God in the darkness and silence and wondered if you we really are your own and all alone? Did you ever feel like you prayed and God was silent?
The Bible plainly teaches that there are times when God is silent and seems distant. In 1 Samuel God spoke to little Samuel, but that was unusual and it had been a long time since God had spoken in Israel “…And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” (1 Samuel 3:1, ESV)
God Can See You When You Can’t See Him and
Often He Works Powerfully in Silence.
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,”
“Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.”
1 Timothy 6:16
“who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
Our son Daniel is a dad now. He’s a tall, strapping las enforcement officer in New Mexico. Almost every night I watch little videos of his son, our grandson, Waylon. Little Waylon has a head of thick black hair like his daddy did when he was small and an appetite for food. The little dude is always munching on something. His daddy was the same way.
We were eating at a fast food restaurant one day when he was about four. After we all finished our meal the family went to the car. I asked Dan; “Hey Danny, do you want some ice cream?”
We stood in line to order but the line was moving slow, so I gave up and walked over to the door to leave. When I reached the door I realized that Danny wasn’t with me. I turned around and saw him standing there studying the pictures on the menu board. For fun I just waited and watched to see how long it would take him to discover that I was not there.
At the time he was such a little fellow that when he began looking around for me I could tell he was looking at the pants of all the people who were standing around him. Not recognizing any pants that looked like mine he turned his little head upward and started desperately searching the faces of the people standing around him. He didn’t see my face anywhere. Panic spread across his face.
“Danny,” I called out to him.
His head snapped in my direction and when he saw me a he broke into a huge smile and ran to my side.
In the moment I had an epiphany. I cannot always see my Heavenly Father, but his eyes are always on me.
There will be times in your life, maybe soon, when you will feel like God is far away or absent. You will not be able to see him. You will feel alone. You are not alone in this feeling. The greatest characters in the Bible, men and women of faith, confessed this same experience.
If you read the fascinating story in the Old Testament book of Job you will see that Job had this same experience, the experience of not being able to see God, but he affirmed the truth that even when he could not see God, God could see him.
“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:8-10)
Right now you might not be able to see him, but he sees you and he is at work in you even when he seems silent or distant. Never forget. He is always with you. he can always see you. his eyes are on you. His ears are open to you, even when you can’t see him.
My Answer for Mark
I told my friend Mark at breakfast, “Well God sent me with the truth, that is the way He usually works. He speaks in our hearts, and in his creation, and in our conscience, but he especially speaks through his Word… but sometimes he speaks thought others. Mark I think if you commit your life to Christ and trust Him one day you will with him and you will look back over you life and you will see that hand of God and you will see that you were never alone.”
“…he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV)
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”
(Psalm 139:7–12, ESV)