Ever since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve asked God for lots of things He hasn’t given. There have been times I’ve begged God for clear guidance n how to handle messy relationship or on what direction to move in a confusing situation, and it never came. I could name a dozen nasty spots in my life, probably more, when I’ve felt desperate to hear from God yet heard only silence.
Sometimes I tried to believe I had heard God’s voice, but I knew I really hadn’t. I wanted it so badly I pretended I had.
“God, where are You?” I’ve often asked. “Are You listening to me? Do You know what’s going on in my life? Do You care? Do I even know where You are?”
In my fifty-two years as a Christian, I haven’t yet known God in the same way I’ve known people I could see and touch and audibly hear. I know my wife, Rachael, in ways I don’t know the Father, and I mean personal ways, not physical ones. I know Kep and Ken, my sons, in ways I don’t know God’s Son. And I know special friends like Trip, Jim, Evan, Glen, and Kent in ways I don’t know God’s Spirit. Yet the Spirit is inside me, nearer than human friends could ever be.
But all that’s changing. Not completely, of course. Complete change comes when we get home. But enough change is going on to give me fresh hope that more is ahead in this life. Something good is happening inside me that’s new, after all these years of being a Christian. Perhaps what encourages me most is that the new hope grows stronger on bad days, and I still have plenty of those.
Knowing my real Papa is meaning more to me. I can now report that there are moments of encounter with God that are more real and reach deeper and produce more joy than my best encounters with others, including my wife, my kids, and my closest friends.
Emptiness, loneliness, thirst, and hunger still plague me, along with irritability, discouragement and boredom. I still have dark days. But now these experiences sometimes seem more like open doorways into a better world than thick walls trapping me in this one.
Now when I ask God for things I want, I’m more aware that He’s listening. And I feel less demanding, less as if I’m trying to control God, to get Him to do certain things that, rightly or wrongly, matter to me. Every once in a while, I’m staggered by the thought that He’s having a great time doing me good right now, no matter what’s happening. He wants me to be as happy as He can make me. And I’m realizing for that to happen, I must give up on the happiness I can find elsewhere. That doesn’t mean I’m not to enjoy a good meal or good friendship; it means I’m not to depend on or require the good things of life for my well-being, or to figure out how I can get God to give me the legitimate blessings of life that I want—or when I get them to ask them to fill me up more than they can.