It never ceases to amaze me how fickle and ever-changing we humans are. In a world that, despite seasonal changes and some natural phenomena, rarely changes, people have an uncanny ability to turn that generally stable world upside down and inside out. Then again, being a human myself, it also never ceases to amaze me that the God who created us is forever unchanging and permanent. Though He made us in His image, it seems that we are complete polar opposites of each other. And somehow, with that thinking, it seems logical that Christians should be the most stable, unaltering people out there. Not so.
I am often forced to step back from my life and evaluate it – this generally occurs when I completely screw something up and have to figure out how to fix it. The fact that it occurs so often should have forced the message into my head by now that I need to let God handle things, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. But nevertheless, as I take a step back and get a snapshot of my life, it’s easy to compare with how things were at other points in time. And if you graph the emotional state of my life over time, I think what would occur would be some sort of sine curve of ups and downs – violent changes in emotion and attitude. It surprises me every time, because although sometimes it’s drastic, at other times, it occurs so very slowly that I don’t even see it happening. It’s only when I evaluate my life that I realize how immense that change has been.
Now, I know I’ve talked about this sort of thing before. Humans are fickle, and they never stay in one place emotionally for more than a few days at a time. It’s a fact of life, and while the best we can really do is learn how to control ourselves, I’ve been finding out the hard way just how difficult that is. The past few weeks for me have been pretty dry spiritually at best. And while I know probably most of that is my fault, due to my flesh incessantly deciding to stage a revolt within me, I’m not thoroughly convinced that our sin nature is the only explanation. I talked with a member of the worship team at my youth group recently, and they said the same thing: the “experience,” if that’s what it must be called, of God just wasn’t there. “I’m not feeling it,” were the exact words. And while it’s been drilled into me enough times at school and church that God is more than just an emotional state, the fact still remains that we are emotional beings, and God is one as well. He often uses our emotions as the drive and determination that keeps us going on the right path. How ironic that we would use them for the same reason, only to follow our own path. We use our inner peace as the excuse to do a little jungle-trekking, making our own path instead of following the straight and narrow one that God’s already provided.
I know that an absence of experience is not a sign that God is not present. I also know that God is always there, and that He is always listening. But somehow the discouragement seeps in when, over long periods of time or directly after an emotional high, we feel nothing spiritually. We come to God thirsty, aching for a drink, and He seems to offer nothing. Nothing but silence. It’s at times like that when it’s all I can do some days just to wake up and convince myself that I still believe He’s there. Elijah proved to the prophets of Baal that His God hadn’t gone on vacation like theirs did, but where did those times go? Elijah’s miraculous events were so long ago, and it just seems like it’s been forever since I saw fire fall from heaven, either literally or metaphorically speaking. Where have the days of God’s blessing gone? You know, the days where He used to dump His power out on the earth by the bucketfuls, and we couldn’t possibly hope to contain it.
With all these questions comes doubt and confusion. And since God Himself has told us that we have not a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind, I can only hope that amongst these questions, there is some rational explanation. How can a God that never changes seem to be as fickle as the humans down here on earth? A few days ago, I mentioned that I read a book authored by the founder of Youth With a Mission. Inside, he recounts amazing tales of God’s awesome power and His supernatural ability to work everything for good. Also within those pages were contained powerful principles for hearing from God. And so, I trusted that a God that never changes would work the same way for me that He did for this man. I asked Him for guidance. I pleaded with Him for direction. And I received silence. Where this man had visions, I had nothing but the darkness of closed eyes. Where this man heard the quiet, inner voice of the Holy Spirit, I heard nothing but my own breathing and the eventual thoughts of my own mind creeping in to fill the silence. Where was God? Wasn’t He listening to my prayers? Did He not care, or was He just sitting up there laughing?
I don’t believe for a second that my God wasn’t up in heaven listening to my prayers. But I do believe that He chose not to speak to me for a reason. What that reason is, I’m not entirely sure, but a lesson in patience could have been part of it. I was asking Him questions about guidance, and though my motives were pure, He instead said, “Trust me.” That was the only message I heard. But at the time, I was too concerned with the silence than with the short, two-word sentence I received. You see, yes, God is unchanging, but at the same time, He is deeply individual. I was reading this book wanting to receive what he got from God, but what he got wasn’t what I needed. At some point in time which God will determine, I will receive from God what He wants me to receive. And for now, the message is, “Wait.” While that horribly frustrates me sometimes, since hearing “Wait” doesn’t really help me in choosing a university or a career path, I have to trust that He knows what He’s doing. Somewhere in that superhuman mind of His, He has a plan for me, and that plan is not for me to know right now. As much as I hate that waiting process, I also prayed for discipline, and I suppose this also might be some lesson in that area. Oh how terrible it is sometimes when God actually answers our prayers! Then we find out that perhaps we might not have really meant what we said after all.
So what about this dryness in my life? It can only be a result of the painful waiting process. Like crawling through a desert, when water is not anywhere in sight, sand will certainly not help the thirst. We must wait until we find the water we seek, and only then will our thirst be quenched. If God were simply to show up and give us what we wanted every time we had the desire for it, He’d be developing a bunch of fat, lazy Christians. We’d be nothing more than overfed babies, constantly crying for the things we wanted and never learning to wait for the things we need. So here I wait. I’ve committed my life to the God I serve, and now I have nothing to do but allow Him to do what He wants with me at the time He determines. Until then, I’m on a need-to-know basis, and my job right now is to keep crawling in search of water until I find it. After all, I suppose things are always a lot better when you’ve had to suffer for them.