When God Feels Far

girl alone

“Do you really want…Me?”

Sometimes I feel God ask me this question. And it’s usually after I’ve been feeling like I’m not enough, and I’m trying to do more, and be more.  And He said it to me this morning.

“Do you really want Me?”

And I tremble, because, He already knows the answer.

The thing about Jesus is that He can see straight through me. He knows when I’m fake. He knows when my motives are off. He knows when I switch from love to selfish ambition. He knows when I’m just going through the motions. He knows when I’m too preoccupied for Him.

Almost like a lover, who can tell when you’re trying to make love…but not really into it. Not really feeling it.

Just kind of pushing through.

I have a chair in my living room, where I sit and be with Him in the mornings, before the house is awake.

But lately, my time with Him has been rushed, and not because I don’t have enough time, but just because my mind is rushed, my mind is elsewhere, I’m speeding through some Scripture, but I’m not really pausing to listen. I’m already looking to the next thing. And I just can’t engage with Him. I can’t slow down enough. But..

He speaks, you know.

And this morning I just felt Him calling me…to Himself. To, “Come closer.” 

And I just sat Indian-style on a wooden dining room chair and listened to this song on repeat. It’s called, “In Over My Head,” by Jenn Johnson. (The link opens a new screen in Youtube where the lyrics are shown.) And it’s just about wanting Him. It’s about thirsting. It about longing for Him at any cost. And it says, “Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You, and all I wanted was just to be with You.”

And as I listened, it was like He just put His fist into my heart, like He was massaging it. Like the way I sometimes work out the tough knots in my husband’s back. Just this slow, continual stroking…until they finally start to loosen, and smooth out, tender.

And I don’t really have anything great to say, other than He wants all of us.

And, if you’re struggling, like me, He wants you. All of you.

Because the other thing I love about Jesus, is that when He finds us in our superficiality…He calls us out of it.

He says, “I know you. I know you. Come here. You’re mine.

You don’t have to pretend with Me. I already know.”

So, maybe listen to this song? And just worship. And let your hair fall from that tight up-do. Because He’s real. And He’s here. And He wants to see you. And hold you close. He wants to work out those knots in your heart. And He’s the only one who can.

Years ago, I wrote a song from God’ perspective called “Secret Place,” and I used to sing it and just cry at my piano, because it always called my spirit to His. It went,

“You can find Me, if you want to,

In our secret place.

I’ll tell you secrets, you can hear them,

in our secret place.

Do you remember, when You loved Me,

in our secret place?”

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely need more of Him. Right now. Today. I absolutely need to come close. I absolutely need to connect. I need to worship. I need to get the focus off of me…and onto Him. The only place it ever belonged. The only place we are set free.

And I need the Spirit to come and break into the atmosphere today. Because I don’t want to do this without Him. And I don’t have to. I wrote a note and put it by the sink where I wash dishes, it simply says,

“You don’t have to do this alone.”–God

It’s a simple reminder for me to snap out of “auto-pilot” robot mode. And connect with Him, in my spirit. And all the thoughts and chaos that is in my head, all the desires, all the disappointments, and weaknesses, and idols, and comparisons, and pressure, and feelings of “not enough-ness”,  and incompleteness,  just to scatter them out before Him, and let Him sort them out. Because He can, and He will.

And His Word really does pierce, and divide, soul and spirit, and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) And He sees everything. So we can just come.

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitants in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.…” Isaiah 30:18-19

We live in the Information Age, and sometimes our minds are just overloaded. Sometimes our eyes begin to blur all the news feeds together. And I love to write, and I love to read. But sometimes I just need music. I just need to worship. I need to lift up my voice, and let my spirit cry out, and be comforted. By Him. It’s what I was created to do.

Sometimes I need to come to Him, not like the Pharisee that’s trying to have it all together, but the woman who just collapses at His feet and cries, and wets His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. And can’t stop kissing them. (Luke 7:44) How much better to have this kind of tender affection toward Jesus and be falling apart, than to have it all together outwardly, but a heart like a stone?

Oh, God, come and break me again.

Sometimes we lose desire. And we don’t long for Him like we once did. But it’s not too late. If you’re alive, it’s not too late, to stop, and turn your affections toward Him. I know today, I have to. Perhaps this song will help you, like it did me. Or perhaps there are others that will. Whatever it is, find it. He is worth it. He is worthy of our worship. And only in His presence is the fullness of joy we all long for. (Psalm 16:11)

He longs to be gracious to you.

And rises to show you compassion.

So, come closer.

When Your “Easter Best” Looks Pretty Bad

bedhead

I didn’t give my daughter an Easter basket this year. Instead, I gave her a waste-basket. Why? Because late last night, she woke up puking. Our night was filled with trips to the bathroom, loads of laundry and cleaning up puke.

Not the Easter I had imagined this year. Her pretty turquoise dress hung on her doorknob in the dark as she and I lay in her bed. I pulled her against my chest and took in the scent of throw up in her hair as we drifted off to sleep together.

This morning, as we lay tangled together on top of sheets and towels, she began to stir. My eyes fluttered open and I helped cover her again with blankets and stroked her face to help her fall back asleep. My heart ached for my poor two-year-old who would not get to wear her pretty dress today, or have any candy, or see any cousins or grandparents. But as we lie there together, my eyes met her big blue ones, and she smiled at me, the blankets half covering her face. Then she said in a groggy, tiny voice, “This is so fun.” I smiled wide at her.

This is so fun.

I’m sometimes taken aback by her innocence. How she lives without expectations or demands. How she finds joy in the most unlikely of places. And calls me into it.

Our morning was spent at home together. All of our big plans, flushed down the toilet. With the puke. Instead of a big Easter brunch at my mom’s, we feasted on Saltines and Pedialyte. Instead of getting all gussied up in our Easter best, I stayed in my sweats, and she in her footie-pajamas. Instead of attending a nice church service, we laid on the couch wrapped in a cocoon of blankets and watched cartoons.

And we looked…just terrible. She had a fro in the back that wasn’t going to calm down easily. Along with the dried puke. As I took her to the tub, and began to fill it with hot soapy water, I was halted by a glimpse of myself in the mirror. And…wow.

bad hair day

Need I say more?

Yikes.

Tonight, as I scroll through the news feeds of everyone in their Easter best, I realize how bad we look here at our house. In Easter’s past, we have tried to look pretty, and hopefully next year’s Easter, we will look slightly better than we do right now.

But if not, it’s okay. Because as I sit here, with a wild bun on my head and no make-up. I’m reminded that Easter is not about how good we look. It’s about how good our God looks. It’s about Christ.

It’s not about making much of ourselves. It’s about making much of Him. It’s not about gazing at ourselves in the mirror. It’s about gazing at Him. If our Easter best looks pretty bad, it doesn’t really matter at all. Not even a little bit.

What matters today, and every day, is that, Christ looks good. Because He is good. And He is alive. And He is here.   And He is so much bigger than Easter. Because He really did destroy the powers of darkness, and triumphed over them, making a spectacle of them. And He did pour out His blood, He did make a way, for us to obtain salvation. Even in our ugliness. Even in our wickedness. And whether in pretty Easter dresses, or rags…He came to those who were far off, and called them close. And called them His children. He rescued us from eternal death.

So He can’t just be hard-boiled and decorated the way we want. Because there’s a live chick in that egg.

And He’s alive. And He’s going to crack the sky when He comes back. And His name is Jesus.

And He is beautiful. And holy. And mighty. And He made a way for the ones covered in puke. And sin. He washes us. He restores us. And He clothes us in robes of righteousness. For His name sake.

“So, I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.” –Heart of Worship

Like I said, our Easter best is lookin’ pretty bad this year. But it doesn’t matter. Because He is alive. And He is looking more radiant and beautiful than ever.

A Prayer for the Longing Heart

 

Show me your Glory. I want to long for you like a young lover. I want to chase you and find you. I want to hunger and thirst. To long. I want to climb, and hide away. I want you to show me the heights of the land. And the depths of the sea. Oh God, I want to know your love.

And make it known.

I want to be one with you. And not distant. I want to be fully exposed to you. I don’t want to be numb the rest of my life. I don’t want to be pushed here and there with the culture–or the the trends of social media and news feeds. I need a firm place to stand.

What do you want to speak?

What do you want me to hear?

There is steadiness in you. You hold me right here, as the waves buffet. 

Everyone screams. Everyone calls out. The waves are wild. The wind is strong. We’re not pretending. The storm is real. 

And so are you. 

You stand out there and walk on the waves. You defy gravity. The storm we all fear–you walk with simplicity over. 

And you call me to trust. And you call me out, 

to you.