John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Mind the Gap

For the generation older than me, Kennedy's assassination was probably THE defining moment. Every American in their 50s can probably tell you where they were when they heard about it. My generation will probably do that with the tragic events of 9/11. I was in Denver, sitting in my graduate course on Advanced Hermeneutics, when we heard that something was happened in New York. We found a television and watched in horror as the second plane went into the buildings. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. This kind of thing simply didn't happen in America. This is the kind of thing that happens elsewhere -- in Beirut or Bosnia, not in America.

For weeks, many Americans just couldn't get their minds around what had happened. What in the world was going on? How? Why? We thought God would protect us. We're a Christian nation, right?

Now, imagine you're among those 10,000 folks living in exile near the Kebar River with Ezekiel. There were folks who were saying, "This will all be over in a little while. You watch. This will be over soon, and we'll all be back home sleeping in our own beds and making sacrifices in the temple in Jerusalem."

But days turn to weeks turn to months turn to years. And more than a decade passes. You begin to doubt the prophets who claim this is going to be over soon. What if it never ends? What if you end up spending the rest of your life out here in the middle of nowhere? No, you think to yourself, you simply cannot allow yourself to think those kinds of thoughts.

And then the unthinkable happens. A stranger wanders into town; he says he's run all the way from Jerusalem. That's 700 miles he's come to give the news: Jerusalem has been destroyed.

You think, I must not have heard that right. Did he say Jerusalem? Destroyed? But Jerusalem is the City of God -- the place where God put his name. We built him a house there with his own room. What about that house and that room? The temple is still standing, right?

No, the temple has been burned to the ground along with the rest of the city. There is nothing left but smoldering rubble and ashes.

How can this be? Has God forgotten his promises? Has he given up on us? Did he change his mind?

We all find ourselves asking questions like this. At one time or another we all end up wrestling with the gap between life as God has promised it and life as we experience it. So, how do you survive during those times? Faith seems pretty easy on a day like today. It's about 70 degrees with a slight breeze. Things are blooming. My kids are relatively healthy. My wife is lovely. I've got good music playing in the background (Kurt Elling singing "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing").

But how do you get through life when the promises of God seem a million miles away?