March 23, 2020
I’ve known God for 40 years. The “Big Guy Upstairs.” The One who spoke to Moses as one does with a friend. The ‘Father’ who allowed His Son to be crucified. Yup, that’s the God I know. It’s an interesting number, considering we’re in the season of Lent (although my denomination doesn’t practice Lent).
I’ve been in a season of life asking, “Where are you, God?” A few nights ago I shared with my wife where I’m at spiritually. Where is God? How come I can’t hear Him? I’m even reading a book titled Four Ways to Hearing God’s Voice. I’ve heard God’s voice in my 40-year adventure. I’m 46, but I find myself asking, “Where’s God?”
I’m reminded that God hasn’t changed. I have.
I’ve dealt with same-sex attraction since I was in jr. high. I read the Bible and prayed to make it go away. It didn’t. And I wondered then, “God, where are you?”
Knowing God since I was six years old, entering the homosexual lifestyle at 23, and then leaving homosexuality to pursue heterosexuality at 28. “God, where are you?”
In 2008, I met my wife (another miracle of God’s provision!) and after 3 years of infertility we found out we were pregnant, naturally. But then, at 16 weeks into the pregnancy, my wife’s amniotic fluid broke on Thanksgiving Day in 2011 and she delivered a beautiful baby girl, Samantha, four days later. Baby Samantha had tiny little eyes, a nose, gums and the tiniest fingers and feet I’ve ever seen. She had knees, legs, arms, parts that moved and tiny-tiny fingernails — a beautiful baby girl. My wife and I had never been through something so heart-wrenching and painful. “God, where are you?”
Three pregnancies later, the same tragedy occurred. Baby boy, Shane, was born earlier than Samantha — at 14 weeks. He had the same tiny little eyes, a nose, gums, everything baby Samantha had even the tiny-tiny fingernails— a beautiful baby boy! “God, where are you?”
This 40-year relationship with God has had its ups and downs — from child-like faith, to theological and biblical interpretation discussions and talks, to graduating with a Master of Divinity in 2007 and becoming a Recorded (Ordained) Friends (Quaker) pastor in 2009.
I founded Church United in 2016, an organization activating pastors in Government, and within three years of insurmountable success (as even noted by the secular NBC New York and the New York Times). Our annual fundraising event was canceled March 17 due to COVID-19 pandemic. This event helps fund the upcoming year and events. How will I raise money to provide for our three kids, wife, home and ministry? “God, where are you?”
We’re in the midst of a historic global pandemic crisis, with global consequences potentially more catastrophic than September 11, 2001 and previous stock market crashes in U.S. history. And, from a global, historic perspective, the pandemic of the Coronavirus might even be compared to the 1912 flu! As the United States has gone from one of the most successful economic seasons in American history, the greatest gains and the lowest unemployment rates in history — things have completely flipped to catastrophic losses within a week or two. I have found myself calling stores asking if they have milk, flour, toilet paper, etc. “God, where are you?”
He’s here. Emmanuel, God with us. Psalm 77.
This week I was social distancing from neighbors on our street. Keep in mind, my three-year-old son and six-year-old daughter are still learning this concept. My daughter kissed the four-year-old neighbor girl on the cheek and hugged her to say goodbye while the adults cringed because of social distancing. The heartfelt, innocent human compassion for another human was beautiful. God was there.
Another day this week, at a park in California while my one-year-old daughter and wife were napping, my three-year-old son crashed on his bike. My daughter had placed our Vizsla’s leash around the handlebars and our dog, Tucker, began to run, pulling the training-wheel bike behind them. As I watched, about 20 feet behind, not realizing she attached the leash to the bike, it caused the bike to careen off the narrow path into the fence, causing my son to topple over and skin his knee. As he cried, he asked that I pray to ask God to heal it. I did. God was there.
Moments later, at the same park as we were circling the flat concrete loop, a man leaning up against his brick wall trimming trees in his backyard yelled to me, “I’m waving to your son because he started waving to me.” As I caught up to him walking as he sped down the concrete path so focused on his ambition to pedal hard and ride fast, he uttered, “Daddy, waving to people makes God happy.” Despite his concentration and attention to detail on his newly-realized skill of riding a bike with training wheels, he had taken the time to focus on another person — not himself — to wave ‘hello.’ God was there.
I received a text this week from a pastor. That’s not unusual, as I serve over 1,000 California pastors. But what is unusual is that it was from a woman. In the Christian Evangelical world, most senior pastors are men. Her text language was uniquely different. It read, “Do you have everything you need like toilet paper, eggs, milk, etc.?” We ended up meeting up in Riverside to do the exchange. A gallon of milk, 30 eggs from a farm close to where she lived, a 40-water bottle package of water, and a gigantic package of toilet paper from Costco! We had baked snickerdoodle cookies the night before and gave her some. This Riverside pastor is home alone as her husband is stationed as a Chaplin in Saudi Arabia with the United States Armed Forces. Even my neighbor noticed from his yard when I was unloading the kids and the Costco goods from the car. “Wow! How did you score that?” He was referring to the giant package of toilet paper I was carrying into the garage. I shouted back, “Do you need any? We have extra.” God was there.
On June 8, 2002, when I decided to leave the gay lifestyle, I lost everything — my home, cash, bank accounts and my business — there was $5 bill lying next to my car on a public street that provided my first meal. It was a miracle and a provision. God was there.
In the hospital delivering Baby Samantha at 16 weeks, the OBGYN doctor gave us a peace that surpasses all understanding and asked if she could pray for us. She did. Three years later, miraculously, the same doctor delivered our first full-term baby! She prayed a blessing over the three of us. God was there.
When we lost Baby Shane at 14 weeks, the baby who according to the doctor was only a “mass of tissue”, we found ourselves crying in the hospital parking lot in our car when the Bishop of the Orange County Diocese called me to discuss an event with a mega church pastor. I informed him why I wouldn’t be able to attend, due to our current situation. He immediately prayed for my wife and I and counseled us, and later did a funeral service in our home for Shane. God was there.
In 2019, even when I was hospitalized unexpectedly for four days, God sent a friend to be with me, as my wife and kids were not able to travel to be at my side to ensure my recovery. My brother in Christ hopped on a plane to accompany me during that time. God was there.
Psalm 77 is a lament. The Evangelical church doesn’t do well with lament. Our Catholic brothers and sisters, I believe, have a better grasp and understanding of this Biblical component. In Psalm 77, the “remember when” theme appears after the writer, the lamenter, realizes it’s not all about him, but what God has done. The writer takes the focal point off of himself and focuses on the great things God has done and His Emmanuel with His people. As you contemplate your current circumstances, “remember when” the things God has done, to move your thinking from your present circumstance to lift your heart, mind, soul and strength to God, who is with you.
God is here.
Pastor Jim Domen, M.Div., is the founder of ChurchUnited.com leading pastors in California, growing nationally and internationally, engaging the Church’s pastors in Government. He’s a former homosexual – CHANGED and forgiven by Jesus who resides in California with his wife and their three children. Twitter @jimdomen