Written February 20, 2011.
Hands uplifted to the sky, reaching for what seems just beyond reach. Eyes turned upward, searching for something just out of sight. Lips moving in a silent prayer, wanting but not quite expecting an answer. A thousand thoughts running through my head, all forming a well-worn and tear-stained path to the question I had put off asking. Now, though, it came exploding out in bottled frustration and exhaustion. “Why won’t You speak to me? Why can’t I feel You? God, where are you?”
Recognizing that lately I’ve just been numbly going through the motions of the Christian life without any real or tangible sense of God’s Spirit leading me, I’m desperate to have that reassuring feeling of guidance and direction. I remind myself as though reminding a child, “Of course God is with you. Now bow your head and close your eyes like everyone else and stop making such a big deal out of this.” That never works, of course; mental exercises can sometimes make you think the right thing, but feeling is an entirely different story. Mind games are no substitute for a real and vibrant relationship with God.
As the worship team launched into John Mark McMillan’s most popular worship song, I thought despairingly to myself that I was going to be the only person sitting there wondering why I couldn’t get into the same mood and produce the same response that I saw all around me. But that wasn’t what happened at all. The music washed over me as the sanctuary resonated with the sound of God’s people joyously singing, “Oh, how He loves us…oh, how He loves….” I asked the question one more time: “God, where are you?” The answer came like the whisper of a gentle breeze, but it rang unmistakably clear nonetheless.
“I’m waiting for you.”
Waiting for me? Here I was trying to get to God and He wasn’t showing up — wasn’t it the other way around? But then He gave me another reminder, a promise that He has never failed to keep: “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Around me the chorus continued to bore its way into my soul: “Oh, how He loves us…” If God never moved, but there was a distance between us, who was responsible for the distance?
There’s a facebook page entitled, “Grades. Social life. Sleep. Welcome to college, pick any two.” I have found that to be all too true — and that’s even without God in the equation. So often lately I have crawled into bed to get my precious five hours of sleep, too tired to read my Bible. I intend to pray, but as soon as I close my eyes, I’m out. And slowly I begin to slip back down the slope I had been climbing: one step forward, two steps back.
It was I who had put the distance between us, and now I was presuming to ask God where He went? God does not change like the shifting shadows; He remains constant. It is we who drift away from His arms and then look up, startled and confused, when we realize we’re alone. Fortunately I serve a faithful, loving, and infinitely patient God who will only look at me longingly and say, “I’ve been waiting for you.”