In The Mockingbird Parables, I write about the mysterious Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird and use the character as a metaphor for discussing God. He is the great question, the great mystery, the one watching over us, the one who leaves gifts for us in the “oak trees” of our everyday lives if we will just slow down and pay attention. I am quite sure that Harper Lee never dreamed when she was writing Mockingbird that someone would use her Boo Radley in that way! The metaphor works though; viewing God, like Boo, as a mysterious neighbor always watching over us. Remember how he wraps Scout in a warm blanket to shield her from the cold during the fire? Don’t we all remember the dramatic scene in the movie and the novel, when Boo emerges from his house to rescue the children from the hands of their despicable attacker, Bob Ewell, who is drunk and armed with a switchblade?We certainlycan findthat God at times in the Biblical narrative. He hears His children’s cries and rushes to their rescue. He enters History. From the Exodus narrative on, it happens time and time again. That is certainly a God (and hero) that is easy to believe in…
This weekend, my mind fixated on that idea of God in this tragic context:
It is a senseless story that leaves all of us sick and hurting for the family of that precious little girl and all of those were lost to the gunman last Saturday. In moments like these, I wrestle with the idea of God as our protector. Going back to my metaphor for God in The Mockingbird Parables, there was one occasion when Boo Radley didn’tshow upto protect the children. Boo’s older brother, Nathan, came storming into the backyard firing a shotgun into the air, leaving the Finch children and Dill running for safety. I know this comparison seems trite in the face of the horrible loss of life in Arizona. However, I use this to illustrate what we see in the news every single day: sometimes it seems God shows up to save the day and sometimes it appears He doesn’t. I’m sure at one point or another, we have all wondered how God could tolerate such pervasive calamity and heartache in the world. Yet, I believe these are the very times when the essence of faith is required. When there is not a clear answer…when God responds with silence.
In these moments of tragedy and uncertainty, I believe our faith grows. Living in the tension of these unanswered questions makes us believers. We follow the One who knows what it means to call on a God who doesn’t answer. I love the way Frederick Buechner writes of those moments on the Cross when Jesus was in his own words “forsaken” – when he was truly alone, “Though God is not there for Him to see or hear, He calls on Him still because He can do no other. Not even the cross, not even death, not even life, can destroy His love for God… the love He loves God with is God’s love empowering Him to love in return with all His heart even when His heart is all but broken” (A Room Called Remember). In these moments of grief and confusion, our response can be the one thing that sets us apart as disciples of Jesus: our offerings of consolation, our letters, our hands to hold, our hugs, our presence and our prayers of dependence on the only One who can offer true comfort to these hurting families in Arizona.