What Is God Waiting For?

Sometimes I think that God wants to lavish God’s goodness on us more than we want to seek God out but God withholds such extended grace until we are ready to receive that grace as individuals and as the corporate people of God, until that grace works effectively in God’s world for God’s glory and for our good.

I refer you to Jeremiah 29 where God says to the people, ‘if you seek me with all your heart you shall find me.’ That’s a big ‘if’. It seems to be a condition as when God tells the people:  2 Chronicles 7 “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.”

I wonder if that was what was going on when Jesus would not answer the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7) who asked for help for her daughter. Was he helping her and the disciples to understand that God waits for us all to be ‘ready’ to receive from God?

Is that perhaps why Jesus told the crowds of people to seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else needed would be added? (Matthew 6)

I’m just not sure even about my own faithfulness in seeking, desiring, longing for God. I am striving to be better but I see how weak my longing is unless I am perhaps desperate in a crisis situation, but I should always be desperate for God. Isn’t that a line in a contemporary Christian song, ‘I’m desperate for you.’ Yes, I just looked it up. ‘Breathe’ is the name of the song.

I remember Keith Green’s song where he sings, ‘My flesh is tired of seeking God but on my knees I’ll stay, I want to be His pleasing child until that final day.’ The bolded type is the title of the song.

I must admit that indeed the flesh is tired. Even too tired at times to start let alone to continue our prayers. I found myself this morning just spending time praying, God I want to know your will and do your will even if I don’t know it. (Thomas Merton wrote a great prayer about that.) I do think we can know God’s will. That’s what Paul writes in Romans 12:2. But how much do we really want to know? How much do we want to seek?

Wow, here’s a prayer for all of us from Psalm 27: …Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me.  When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”  Do not hide Your face from me, Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!”

But let’s see if it is true. Let us all implore God more. Seek God more intensely and see if we don’t ‘FIND’.

Let me close with a quote from John Chrysostom (Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th Century):

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else.  If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God.  Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord.  If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.

TIRED

Sometimes writing a blog can sound a bit too pious like I somehow know the answers on the journey of faith. But it’s not like that. Some days I struggle mightily to be an apprentice to Jesus. For example I give you exhibit A, a recent time in my life that I journaled about.

Sometimes I get tired of being a student of Jesus as an academic exercise in goodness. Sometimes I just don’t want to be loving, or have any more patience. Sometimes I am just annoyed by pretty much everything and everyone. Too many demands and expectations. Too many extra miles to walk in someone else’s shoes. There are periods I would just like to be left alone. Sometimes I just want to be selfish. Not in some licentious way but just quietly minding my own business and saying ‘go away world’.

I wonder if the disciples ever felt like that. Tired of the Samaritans, feeding the thousands of people, storm tossed nights on their fishing boats, everyone pulling at them. I also wonder if maybe Jesus got tired of the whole thing, being fully human and all. I recall him saying that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. If he meant spirit with a small s then I am not sure my own spirit is really all that willing. Paul certainly expresses his own struggles in Romans 7 where he writes that the good he wants to do he doesn’t do and the bad stuff he doesn’t want to do he ends up doing. Maybe Paul got caught up being tired too. Maybe he found himself cranky with those around him pulling on him at every twist and turn in his journey. He does ask rhetorically who is going to save him from the mess and concludes that only Jesus can. I wonder what that exactly means. Cause when I am tired I do not find the strength in myself to even try to be and do good. Prayer doesn’t come easy in these times.

As a retired pastor this may surprise some of you. That’s ok. I’m not feeling all that strong to put on a good face right now. So what to do? You might think I have some spiritual answer at this moment but you’d be wrong. I am just here and all I can do is trust that God in his grace is holding on to me. I have no 5 principles for combatting spiritual fatigue. No ten commandments for being more holy. I just am. At this moment I am waiting on God for whatever comes next. I haven’t lost my faith. I have lost the zeal. So in this experience of being a student of Jesus I think I will just audit the course for a while.