The Spice Girls song notwithstanding, I find myself lately holding back my requests from God. I’ve been saying things like, “whatever you ordain is right” and help us to believe.
But it’s not really that different from the (awful but ubiquitous and annoyingly catchy) song after all. We have all these demands. I had demands on my husband. I wasn’t going to up and marry just any one. I had to know know know that this was The One and that he was all that. And I guess I passed whatever tests he had because he put a ring on it – in fact he made a ring for it – and here we are two spawn later and more in love than either of us ever have been or thought possible in our entire collective lives.
So with God, I run the risk of putting God to the test. I feel the temptation, not unlike Jesus in the desert with the Evil One, to question God’s goodness, his control, his care and concern for me. I want to just throw down and say that’s it, I want the wheel back, thank you very much.
Of course I don’t. Of course I am reminded again and again of God’s goodness and love to us, how he has cared for us and leads us continually in ways we could never have guessed. So when will I trust him? Oh for grace.
There’s a part of me that feels I have to get all dolled up. I told my husband when we were dating that I don’t really wear makeup. He seems ok with this still. The other night, I put on some and we jokingly refer to it as “dolled up.” I don’t ever feel like I need to with him. I do once in awhile because I don’t want to be the plainest girl in the room. Or maybe I’m feeling particularly insecure. Whatever the reason, it happens.
And it happens emotionally with God. I feel like I haven’t been spiritual enough. I feel like I haven’t spent enough time in prayer or reading the Bible. I feel inadequate and insecure. I think I have to work on it and earn back his good graces. But just like my husband, God hasn’t stopped noticing me. He hasn’t stopped loving me. He hasn’t stopped wanting me for his own. He would buy that field with the hidden treasure every single time. He would seek that lost sheep, that lost coin, that lost son, no matter what I do or don’t do.
His favor is on the humble. The meek inherit the earth. The mournful will be comforted. What I really want in the end is this… the smile of God. How do I have it? How do we know God loves us? How do we really, really know? Is it that good things happen to us? Is it that we feel loved?
How do we know God loves someone else? How do we think of them? If they’re successful, their plans go well? Oh, that must be the blessing of God. What if they seem to have it together? They’ve made wise decisions, had a good, long career, their children all seem well adjusted and contributing members of society. That looks like God’s favor. God must love them. AND they must have loved God the right way.
It’s a TRAP! Is it? I find myself in this trap. When my life was at its worst, I pointed to a hundred bad choices, irresponsibility, sinfulness, pigheadedness. Of course that’s what I deserved.
But isn’t that what we think? What about people who are suffering? When nothing seems to go right for them? Do we kiiinda tend to believe they must have been sinning, or they must have been unwise at least a teensy bit. Could some people be suffering through zero fault of their own?
We don’t like this. *I* don’t like this. Why would God stand back – seemingly aloof – in the midst of true gut-wrenching suffering? Like what the what. This is entirely uncool.
It made me crazy once upon a time. It made me leave the church and my faith behind. I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t get my arms around it in any secure fashion. So I left it alone.
Fast forward and now I’m looking back and I realize this much: what I really really wanted was happy clappy faith. But that’s misguided. Then I wanted answers. and that’s arrogant. As if God answers to me.
But He does answer me. He doesn’t owe me anything. He willingly gives OF himself and his VERY Self to walk alongside my anger and grief. He reminds me that he has seen us. He reminds me of his own story, the suffering and pain of life that he has himself felt. And He tells me he suffered and died and rose again just to make us His own. He tells me a story too wonderful to understand or adequately explain. My heart can only burst from its beauty and its reality. A story that doesn’t skip merrily past the dark parts. A story that enters the dark woods and defeats every evil within.
It’s a story I didn’t even know I wanted. But I did. I needed it desperately and my heart wanted to hear it. And like any good story, it developed character. It takes a worthless pile of junk and turns it to art. It takes a worthless pile of bones and brings them to life. It snaps its fingers and restores … oh wait, spoilers…
Come quickly, Jesus. Give us what we want. Through all our searchings, we come to know we are only in want of You.