Daily Devotion - Tuesday, January 19, 2016
I was reading from Psalm 13 today during my quiet time and I read these words that stuck with me: "How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?"
I remember the moment when I first doubted the existence of God. I was 19 years old and I had grown weary of the images of God that I had been living with my whole life. God as judge. God as jury. God as executioner. God as Zeus, hand trembling on his lightning bolt, ready to toss it at me if I stepped out of line.
I remember saying, "There is no God," out loud. And then I waited for something to happen. I had been taught from the writings of Paul that "The fool says in his heart there is no God," and I figured that if the God I had always imagined actually did exist, he wouldn't abide my foolishness. I waited, but nothing happened. There was no lightning bolt, no voice from heaven. There was no reaction at all. Only silence.
I was disappointed.
Years went by. I lived my life, never giving a single thought to the God I had imagined. That God was forgotten, He didn't exist as far as I was concerned. I never entertained for a moment any real thoughts of the God I thought I had known in my past. I fled from church and church-y people, and took my refuge in places and with people who were as far from that old, dead idea of God as I could get.
What I did not know, what I could have never imagined at that point in my life was that the image of God I had rejected, the notions of God I had put to death in my mind and heart---those images and notions were of a God that did not exist. Because what I soon came to realize was the longings I had that would not go away and the emptiness in my spirit that couldn't be satisfied were being drawn to something/someOne I had never really known at all.
Without realizing it, my soul had been crying out to God all along, only the God I was crying out to was the God who loved me beyond all love, who became like me in order to redeem me, who gave everything in order to show how great and wide and deep His love for me truly is.
And when it came to me, it washed over me like a warm wave. I could see where all along, throughout all of the twists and turns of my life, God had been guiding, leading, shaping and prodding me toward the path he had ordained for my life. My soul had been praying the first two verses of Psalm 13 in desperation, and God--in His time and His way--worked to show me that God had always been there with me, never leaving my side.
The last bit of the first part of Psalm 13 takes the cries of longing and desperation in a new direction. The psalmist declares the following after asking God where God is, why God hasn't answered: "But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise for he has been good to me."
Maybe it's time for you to let go of the false images and notions of God that you've been holding on to for so very long. Because I suspect if you feel a distance from God, as if God isn't near you, caring for you, loving you it's because you moved. You moved the needle away from who God truly is, to an idea of a God that doesn't exist.
May you feel the presence of the true God, the One God who demonstrates His great love for you every single day of your life in a hundred ways that often go unnoticed. May you have eyes to see God's presence around you, and ears to hear God's still small voice speaking. May you experience the full and wondrous love of God through Jesus Christ, and may the grace and peace of Jesus be with you now and always. Amen.