I have a lot to say.
I have a lot of emotions and thoughts.
I’ve been yelling at the faces of just about anyone who is willing to listen, (poor Adam).
(Ever get the feeling that something small is about to turn into something big.
I really want to use this platform I have in a smart and fair way. I don’t want to abuse this opportunity to address an issue by being overly apologetic or overly aggressive.
So, at least for now, I’m going to leave my personal experience for another day and instead focus on one important issue at a time:
Vis-a-vis. . . the following, (wink.)
So, let me paint you a picture:
You’re in a warm dimly lit room. You’re surrounded by beautiful people, with strong gorgeous voices. A guitar is playing, you’ve just heard a wonderful message making you feel accepted, loved. Your eyes are closed, your voice is raised, you can feel the weight of this moment in your soul. The words of the song you sing resonate in your spirit. This matters. . . this means something. . . a kind voice booms out over the microphone:
“Do you feel him, God is here! You’ve called to him and he has come.”
Now let me tell you a different story:
Picture a young woman in her car, speeding frantically across state-lines desperate to make it to the hospital where her beloved mother is being held. She is savagely praying for her mother to live, but with each phone call the news only gets worse. Between the sobs she obsessively dials her mother’s cell phone, hoping maybe by some miracle she will answer, simply desperate to hear the firmiliar and reassuring sound of her mother on the voicemail message.
These constant calls take their toll.
Now she is not only begging for her mom, she is also begging for her phone. Please, oh please, I need my phone to find the hospital, to call my family, to hear her voice, oh please, don’t let my phone die.
But the phone dies.
Her mom dies.
All powerful and you couldn’t even keep my phone alive?
Where in the hell was He?
That first story is beautiful. It is my story. I’ve been in that room, with those voices, feeling that weight my entire life. The problem is this:
Although it sounds true to announce to a room that God “has arrived” that your beautiful voices have “called to him and he has come” it is a lie.
God did NOT arrive,
He was already there.
He is omni-present, he exists inside of you.
That didn’t change.
The only thing that shifted was the atmosphere.
In that story you’ve taken the time to slow down, to focus. You’ve been in the word, you’ve learned about the wonder of God–your father. You’re in awe and inspired, and THAT is why you suddenly feel the weight of his presence.
He didn’t change,
The problem with basing your faith on how much you feel God is that sometimes you simply won’t.
When I was the girl in the other story, driving from New Mexico to Colorado, only to watch my soul-mate of a mother leave me alone in the world, I sure as HELL did not feel like God was there.
I felt abandoned.
I felt alone.
I felt. . .like he’d never been there in the first place.
The danger of that phrasing, “He has come”, “He heard you and now he’s here, do you feel it?” The danger is that it plants the seed of a thought: that you brought him, by something you did.
And that’s a lie.
You do not earn his presence. He’s there.
You do not call him to you. He’s in you always.
And you can’t lose his presence by something you do either.
Don’t get this wrong.
This is exactly how people lose their faith.
You base the weight of the world (literally the most important issue you can ever make a decision about) on shoddy doctrine and you will have casualties.
When I was in that car I did not feel like God was there. But I knew he was.
I knew because I’d studied his word.
I knew he was in my mother’s last breath, in my baby-brother’s tears, in my pregnant sister’s heartache, in my older brothers shock, my father’s weeping.
He was there. I might have hated him in those moments, (and I did) but I still knew he was there.
He is always there, whether you feel him or not, he is there.
Why am I splitting hairs about this?
Because this very subtle twisting of the truth is destructive. If you’re in a room full of people proclaiming to be feeling Him and you don’t. . . Well, then what’s wrong with you, right?
Because what if I didn’t trust what I know???
What if I’d thought: Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough and that’s why he didn’t come. Maybe I’ve been too sinful and he took my mother as punishment. Maybe I didn’t earn his presence.
See the danger?
“I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2: 4-5
We can’t let something that sounds right, that seems ‘plausible’, enter into our doctrine if it isn’t God’s actual truth.
“Do not quench the Spirit, Do not despise prophecies, BUT TEST EVERYTHING; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
More often then not, evil sounds right. It sounds accurate. But be on your guard, TEST EVERYTHING!
The truth is that my God was every bit as present in that car with me on my darkest day as he was in that worship filled sanctuary.
YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS.
The dark days WILL COME.
Take your good days to prepare so that you can trust what you’ve learned on your worst.