A couple weeks back, a woman at the shelter told me that her Bible had randomly fallen open to Ezekiel, Chapter 14, and – given that we had an ongoing discussion about the possibility of grace within what she saw as the evil of the shelter – she wondered what I thought?
I said I’d get back to her, and over the next week I thought about how the worship of idols by the citizens of Israel had caused God to turn his face away from his chosen people, and more importantly what that might mean to those on the street.
We talked the following week, and touched on the pagan idol worship that predated Judaism, about the idea of sin as an idol separating us from God and about the voluntary ceding of individual autonomy giving idolatrous power to others.
We finally came to the idea of addiction – something common at the shelter -- as an idol that would cause God to turn his face away. We wondered whether drug use was a disease or a choice; was it merely the craving of the body and not the longing of the heart, and as such an understandable human failing that would find forgiveness in the eyes of God?
What is it in our lives that would cause God to turn his face from us?
We came to no firm conclusion, but the simple fact that we could have this conversation outside of the day shelter on the cusp of winter highlights the undeniable fact that the divine is always present, no matter the circumstances. We just have to slow down, breathe, look around and realize that our simple human shortcomings are no bulwark against divine love. If we are facing God with a longing in the deepest recesses of our heart to know him, I am convinced that he will not turn away. He will meet us exactly where we are – as the saying goes, warts and all.