I have a dear friend who recently found her way back to the Father. Now she was confused and angry. “I don’t know what to do about this whole faith issue. Whenever I hear people in church talk about how they encounter God, I think to myself, “That is not my experience! I’ve never met God like that! They say that God always answers prayers, but he’s certainly kept quiet about some of mine! So, I’m not going to pretend. Maybe this God thing isn’t for me after all.”
She went on to telling me about how she felt abandoned. “God’s silent. I need to hear him. If I can’t experience him for myself, I’ll have to let this go.” I suggested laying out a fleece for God, inviting him to prove himself to her. She was puzzled. “Can I do that? Wouldn’t it be offensive to ask him to prove himself to me?” Nope, if it’s good enough for Gideon, it’ll certainly do for the two of us. After all, God does invite us to taste and see that he’s good. He doesn’t expect us to believe that he is good without having personally experienced his goodness.
She was tired. Numb from the waiting. Her hope was fading.
My heart went out to her as I felt her pain, but at the same time I felt a pang of excitement. I love when people refuse to build their faith on the revelation of others, but insist on experiencing God for themselves. It’s like they arise as lions, determined to explore the depths of God.
Wholeheartedly, they search for the one who has promised that he will be found, the very same who brings all captives out to freedom. As soon as they get a taste a him they realize that he’s good, that he’s faithful, trustworthy – a God of tender mercy. They cling to him, refusing to let go unless he blesses them.
Suddenly, they have established a personal relationship with the Father.
It’s one thing to have someone tell you that you are loved. It’s completely different to experience someone’s love for yourself.
“Why does he wait until I’m broken and downtrodden? What kind of show off God is he, waiting for me to be next to nothing before he intervenes? Why won’t he show up before?”
I was glad she vented her anger, not succumbing to all the semi-Christian rules of culturally acceptable behavior. Let’s be real! Honest! Lay it all out! And make room for something else.
Had God not shown up before? I don’t know. I suspect he never left. But how easy is it to recognize God in the burning bush? Did we miss the pillar of cloud during the day? Or did we look out for the pillar of fire at night? How hard is it to identify the Word in between all the other words that constantly surround us? Did we see God in the eyes of the stranger, the one we fed, clothed and invited in? How about the bread and the wine? Did we recognize the body of Christ when introduced to him?
“I’m such a demanding person”, she said, “I just want it to be real.”
Her Father would not have it any other way.