Have you ever spoken to a complete stranger? Maybe you were at the grocery store standing in line and felt compelled to say something to the person ahead of or behind you. Maybe it was to distract yourself from your thoughts…or the lack thereof.
Maybe it was to fill the awkward silence, or to add to the noise around you so as not to be left out. Maybe you felt alone in the midst of a crowd and just needed someone to hear your voice, to acknowledge your existence.
Maybe you’ve commented on something safe like the weather.
“What a nasty day out,” you say of the rain and grey storm clouds. After all, it’s not too likely someone will respond, “Oh, no, the weather is just perfect. Sinus pressure headaches help me think. I really can’t stand sunshine, anyway.”
Or maybe it was a fragrance that caught your attention. “Nice perfume. What are you wearing?” You engage in a few mindless moments of conversation and go about the rest of your day. If the person is lucky, they’ll cross your mind once or twice later that day. If they were truly remarkable, they may even come up in a thought or conversation later during the week. You go about your way having made a connection with another form of human life, even if only briefly.
I think many of us approach God that way, as though He’s a complete stranger.
We want to connect with Someone who may remember us for a brief moment after we’ve left His presence. We comment on the weather, the job market, mumble something to Him when we sit down to eat. “I like that cross necklace of yours,” we say. Or, “That tie reminds me of something my pastor would wear.” How about, “That’s such a nice crimson color, your robe. Did it come that color?” Or maybe we comment on the fragrance He’s wearing, “Is that frankincense? It smells a little bit like myrrh – whatever it is You’re wearing, it smells heavenly.”
Maybe we feel compelled to tell Him all of our woes.
“So-and-so said this today and it really just ticked me off! The nerve!” Maybe we feel the need to bring our wish list to His attention – just in case He forgot to give us that new car we’ve asked for or the Coach purse we’re really “just dying to have.” Maybe we pour out a sad tale of all of our wrongdoings, only to leave the prayer closet and continue in them.
But do we ever come amazed? Are we ever greatly surprised by Him? Does He ever leave us astounded, suddenly filled with wonder? Are we ever bewildered by His greatness? Left speechless by His love? Are we ever astonished by the depths of who He is? Sometimes I wonder.
I wonder when we come to the throne of grace and we leave feeling satisfied, having done our duty of prayer, if He’s left saddened by our lack of passion? I wonder if we go about our day feeling great about ourselves – after all, we put Him first, we spent time telling Him everything that was on our mind first thing this morning – and He’s left disappointed?
I wonder if in those moments when we babble on endlessly about everything and nothing all at once, I wonder if He just wants our silence? To sit with us and enjoy our presence? For us to be still and enjoy His?
Does He ever long for us to just enjoy who He is, rather than tirelessly ask things of Him? Sure, He loves to bless us, just as lovers enjoy giving gifts to one another. But that can’t be the only reason for pursuing someone, to receive things from them. There must be a giving and receiving of the very person or the relationship is superficial. How, then, do we so boldly come before Him asking, asking, asking, and yet seldom do we just come seeking Him? How often do we beg for Him to move in a certain situation, to show His power and bring about miracles into what seems otherwise impossible? And how often do we come to Him with that same persistence, unrelenting until we have seen His face, been filled to the measure in His presence, and can truly say we have had communion with the Lord?
Do we ever stop to ask how He’s doing?
We just assume that, well, He’s God – surely, He must be having a wonderful day! But is He really? Perhaps He has but one wish for today and every day: that we would know Him intimately and allow Him to know us – all of us, even the depths of our souls that we hide even from ourselves. Perhaps His day is not complete until He has enjoyed our presence and we have enjoyed His. “Be still,” He whispers to the quieted soul, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Do we ever come amazed, pursuing nothing but His heart, the very essence of who He is? Do we ever come amazed, when we are the object of His desire, His greatest treasure, His prized possession? Do we ever come amazed by the very One who, despite our shortcomings and miserable failings, is amazed by us? Sometimes I wonder.
Do you know what I hate?
When someone comes up to me and calls me by name, asking me how I’m doing, and I have no idea who in the world this person is. It’s so annoying. I must say, it has happened more than once. Many a time, I’ve had a well-meaning, friendly person approach me and recount various details of my life – and I’m absolutely clueless regarding who they are and how they know what they do about me. It’s annoying - not because they know me, but because for the life of me, try as I might to dredge up a name to put with their face or some recollection of an encounter with them, I can’t. Many times I go along with it, pretending I know exactly who they are and how we know one another.
I often wonder if this is how many of us respond to God.
We’re so accustomed to doing all the talking that we don’t recognize His voice when He manages to break through our barrage of gibberish to say something. Many of us are so restless that we never sit still enough to listen. We have too much to do! We have to get the laundry done, pick the kids up from school, take the car to the shop. Oh, and don’t forget about the kids’ hockey practice, sewing the buttons on your winter jacket, and calling Aunt Sally to wish her a happy 90th birthday - if you can manage to find her number written somewhere on a napkin under all the mail on the kitchen table. Did I mention that the cable’s out, the phone’s ringing, dinner wasn’t made on time so now you have to run through the drive through, and oh, by the way, your neighbor needs to borrow a shovel because you’re both snowed in? We are simply too busy.
We’re too busy to have a moment to think, let alone come into the presence of an unseen God and wait however long it takes until He looks us full in the face.
Jacob of the Bible wouldn’t let God go until He had blessed him – how many of us have that absolute desperation for the presence and the blessing of God? How many of us are willing, let alone have the time to shut ourselves away from the world and to wait? And to wait? And to wait some more, until the Lord shows up wherever we are? How many of us can truly say that we put the Lord first…first in our desire for His presence, for who He is…first in our time, even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later…first in our circumstances, even if it means we admit we can’t do it on our own…first in our relationships, even if it means realizing we’ve missed the mark and made a mess of things?
How many of us can truly say we know what it is to listen for His voice, that we crave His Word more than food or drink, desire Him more intimately than a lover?
I wonder what it will take to push all of our buttons, to break us down, to bring us to our knees in true humility? I wonder what great miracles, what amazing signs and wonders it will take to persuade us that perhaps He is worth our time? How many answered prayers to endless problems before we’re convinced He is a good God? What will it take for us to desire Him, who He is, above all else? What will it take for us to simply come? To come amazed?