Ever heard psalmists and David Crowder sing unabashedly of God being “everything they need” and wondered, What on earth are they talking about?
One of the chief comforts of Scripture when we are disappointed, discouraged, or heartbroken, is that the Christian’s highest goal is not that dream or achievement or milepost you’ve fallen short of, but knowing God. Making him your peace, your joy, your contentment, your soul’s richest food and water. He, the Bible tells us repeatedly, is the only thing that will truly ever satisfy.
But you might have noticed it doesn’t just drop in with the mail.
Where is it then, God? Where are you?
Or as a friend put it recently, “Why can’t I appropriate for myself what God has promised me?”
We know God is faithful. His side of the deal is inerrant and unfailing; there is no lie or failure with him.
As I was wrapping up Air Force basic training (never have seven weeks passed so swiftly and so slowly), one of the final bureaucratic details was the chance to tell the Air Force our preference of first posting, for them to promptly ignore.
We were given a “dream sheet” on which to list eight desired destinations. We could select a base, state, region, or country.
Some of us got an insider tip: wait until tech school to file your sheet. For whatever reason, sheets filed there tended to be actually seen by someone, whereas those filed at basic vanished into the same black hole that has probably consumed all my socks.
So I waited until tech school, filed my sheet, and waited with bated breath for my posting. The sergeant announced them weekly from the podium outside the dorms, usually triggering jeers of fake sympathy for anyone getting “Why Not Minot?”
Finally, my turn came. I got a posting in the…half of the country I’d requested.
Wrong border, though. 1,500 miles away.
Did the Air Force just not care?
Long ago, I listened to a remarkably holy man, a cancer patient, sharing a conversation with God.
It was a naked, piercing, and heavy testimony of the “when you’ve finally just had it” variety. During a morning quiet time in his big easy chair, he is praying and listening for God and suddenly (for are not these things rather sudden?) just explodes into venting about the story God is writing for him. It’s not just the disease. It’s the ongoing changes and the endless appointments and the constant vigilance and the social misunderstandings and the lack of closure and the shame and fear that attend. All his anger and helplessness and isolation explodes before the throne in frustration. He lets God know.
And the man described hearing God reply, “I understand you don’t like the story. How do you feel about the Author?”
It cut me to the quick – one of two things he said that did so. Not a pleasant reveal, but an unmistakably holy one. A divine refocusing.
For though I dared not compare my life’s difficulties to cancer, the question was stil one that I had not wanted to face. For I could tell you exactly how my journey (e.g. my family history, my weird and glitchy personality) has made me feel about God.
The other thing he said was:
“I could just hear the clarity coming to myself, and I finally said it: ‘What I really don’t like is, I’m now living a life where I need you, God, on a day-to-day basis, just to get through it. And I don’t like being desperately needy for you, God.'”