Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Questions and Answers

It is the 18th of August.  So tomorrow will mark one year since my dear friend Matt Auten died.  A year ago today, he was still playing with his two boys at the beach, and he probably smooched his lovely wife Amy.  But that was a year ago, and much grieving has followed.

I'd like to share a glimpse of that process with you.

Not long ago, my pastor spoke on Psalm 121.

He taught about how the Lord watches over us, and keeps us from all harm, and I thought, that's just not true.  I sat and brooded on this until I wanted to scream.  I thought about Amy and the boys and how this sermon would sound to their ears.  I thought of my friend John Hall, who was sitting just a few rows over from me, and how his brother Rob was killed on a missions trip when the compressor he was working on blew up, leaving his wife and kids to fend for themselves in an African village.  I wondered how he processes this.  (And I may still ask him.)  I felt like muttering bullshit bullshit bullshit, but I just sat... and stewed.

At the end of the sermon, our pastor wrapped up by talking about how safe we are in God's hands, and then we stood to sing, and I just stood there with my hands on the chair in front of me, but I don't know if I was holding on to it for dear life, or if I was trying to break it.

I wanted to throw that chair.  I wanted an answer.  Why is this Psalm even in the Bible?  It shouldn't even be in there!  Explain this!

Then something happened.  I felt arms around me and they weren't Joanne's.  Big, strong, literal arms.  Someone was hugging me.  I looked over my shoulder to see a guy I'll call Pete.  Pete is probably the biggest guy in our church; a 6'4" contractor, and he is hugging me from behind.  He says, "I just felt like I was supposed to do that."  I thanked him, and he patted my shoulder and walked away.

Pete is not my friend.  He does not know me.  I have probably only spoken to him two or three times, ever.   And this kind of random hugging thing does not happen in my church.

I smiled through the tears in my eyes as I thought, God, aren't you funny.  You don't answer my questions.  You do not explain.  You simply remind me of Your presence.  And You choose the biggest arms in church to deliver your message.

I feel like I am only left with echoes of Job's response, and I place my hand over my mouth.
Questions With Answers, by Matt Auten

Matt has a beautiful song, 
Questions With Answers, and it seems to me, that at the time Matt wrote it, that God was giving him similar answers.

Matt, I miss you my friend.

Your story has ended, but mine continues, yet your threads are still weaving their way through mine, and I am grateful for that.

Your life was a gift and your death was and is a wound in my life and both continue to bless and hurt and shape me.

"Our wounds are part of who we are
And there is nothing left to chance
And pain's the pen that writes the songs
And they call us forth
... to dance." 
     - Michael Card


  1. What a stunningly amazing song of Matt's.

    And what a marvel to sometimes find that God's Name is Pete.

  2. Missing him, praying for Amy and the boys, and thankful for hugs.

  3. Wow what a beautiful story of his faithfulness, feels so back to front and yet perfectly like God...his love just floors us. Thanks for this andrew