Saturday, July 05, 2003

Do you ever feel like you just turned around for a second and God left the building? He was here just a minute ago. I looked back to see where we had been and when I turned back, He was no where to be found.

It is all preception. God is here. God is there. There is no place that God is not. Except, I suppose, in hell. That is, after all, a very good definition of hell. "The absence of God." That doesn't mean there won't be fire and brimstone too. But God IS here. Right here. He is in the room I where I am writing this and He is in the room where you are reading this. Whether or not He is "felt" is not at all the issue.

And yet it is the issue. Because I like feeling Him. I like the assurance that comes from sensing His hand on my shoulder. Guiding my decisions. Directing my life. It makes me nervous to feel that I am in charge. I do not trust me. I do not recommend that you trust me either. I have seen what happens when I follow my own advice. It is not pretty. And so when I feel Him I am more relaxed. I am more at peace. I am more confident. I like me better. I like you better too.

So what is the deal? Why is God so "feelable" at some moments and virtually "unfeelable" at others? Is it always the recent history of my actions that becomes the determining factor? Is it strictly His choice? Is it a combination of the two? Are there other mitigating factors. Things like ... oh ... my success rate at having a "quiet time" each day? Or maybe whether or not I have listened to theologically solid worship music? Could it have to do with how successful I have been at keeping my mouth shut and listening for His nearly silent whisper?

I wish I knew the answer to all of these questions. I am one of the pastor's. I am suppose to know. But the more I know the more I realize I have a very, very, small handle on the truths that matter the most. I can teach you biblical fact and I can point out heresy. I can quote more scriptures than I realize, though God help me if you require that I also remember the exact reference. I can barely remember where I parked my car at the mall. But I figure that Jesus didn't memorize the old testament chapters and verses so I'm not going to let anybody make me feel guilty if I'm not too good at it.

The real problem is that I have a hard time distinguishing what God is doing today. You want to know what He did yesterday? No problem. I can help you with that. But just ask me what He is doing now ... and I'll either lie to you and tell you ... or I'll admit that I don't really know.

And so I confess it here and now. I am right where you are. I am busy wondering about God. I am trying to understand what He is saying and what He is doing. Sometimes history proves that I got my guess correct. Sometimes history shows that I don't know any more about what He is doing than I know about nuclear fusion. Or is it nuclear fission? See. I don't know.

Here is what I do know. What He is doing is not dependent upon my understanding ... or even recognizing ... His actions. He's God. I am far less than God. I am made in His image. But somewhere along the line I forgot exactly what that means as far as how it works it's way out in my everyday life. (Note: Anybody that tells you that they have a handle on that is not telling you the truth. They are on an ego trip. They want you to think that they have it all together so that YOU will do what THEY want you to do. That is dangerous. I suspect that it also ticks God off. Though He will have to tell you for sure.)

I also know that God is ultimately going to have His way. He is going to have it with our without my cooperation. He is going to have it with or without my approval and understanding of it. He loves me (and you) very much. But if we get in His way ... He just might decide to go over us instead of around us. I am doubting the pleasantness of that experience.

And so, as for me, here is the plan. I am going to cooperate. During the times when I feel Him ... the times when I know He is present and I know what He wants me to do ... I am going to do it. And I am going to enjoy it. I have learned that when I am near to Him nothing else matters. In Jesus I find stillness. And in the stillness of Jesus ... what else matters? Answer: nothing. When I sense His nearness I relax. I find satisfaction in simply breathing. All sense of rush and hurry vanish like a vapor. When I sense His nearness I want nothing else. I just want to be with Him. I do not crave food. I do not crave drink. I do not crave action or entertainment. The moment is enough. And I want that moment. I want it now.

The second part of my plan involves those moments when I do not feel Him ... the times when I know He is present but only because He told me that He always is. In those moments I am going to do the last thing that He told me to do. I am going to do it until I get it done. And then, if possible, I am going to keep doing it anyway. If not possible, I am going to find a quiet place and listen very carefully. In hopes of hearing Him again. If I do not hear Him I am going to look for Him in the places where I have found Him before. In continued stillness. In His Word. In serving others. He will show up sooner or later. He loves me. He enjoys me. The only "fault" I can find in this God of mine is that He seems to have very poor taste in those He chooses to call His own. I am really glad about that.

I know He is here tonight. But I do not feel Him. I do not hear Him. But He isn't hiding. He isn't lost. I just live in a noisy world of my own creation. There are 11 teenagers in my living room. The air conditioner hums. Somebody has a stereo on and a DVD is playing on a television. Even the ceiling fan above my bed whooshes louder than He talks. But He is here. He left His deposit in my heart and it promises me that He will be back.

I'll just wait until He comes before I make any major decisions.