If you were to map out God's involvement in your life, I bet the path would have a lot of twists and turns. A lot of nooks and crannies. A lot of hidden trails and small offshoots where once upon a time, you struggled through the underbrush of your own existence in search of God and somewhere found Him. I talked a little about that yesterday, how we are a people actively seeking God and it seems we most find Him when we have something to do to get there.
I love what that says about us as a people. As God's people. That we are so thirsty for Him, so hungry for the holy, that we are willing to blaze new trails in our lives, cut through any thicket, climb over (or under) any rock in search of our Creator. For the chance to find Him. To know Him. To touch Him. To believe in Him.
That says incredible things about who we are and how beautifully important God is to us.
It says quite a bit less about who God is, and that's where I get concerned.
Those among us who don't know God, those among us who are starting to question and starting to seek...they see the thicket and they turn back. They don't have the energies to fight through anything else to get to something they're not sure if they even believe in yet. They don't have the interest in putting in the effort to find this God that sure, in your stories, He's great, but it seems like it took you a lot of work to get there. I mean, how are they supposed to know the work is worth it?
I'm not saying there's not a place for God through our eyes. There is absolutely a place for our stories. It's just that I wish we were telling more of God's story up front and putting our details in later.
God is not in the thicket. He is, but He's not. He's beyond that. He's above that. I feel like so often, I spend so much of my time weaving my way through my world in search of what seems to be the elusive God and if I'd just step back out of the weeds for a minute, I'd see how incredible encompassing He is. How He's not in some remote crevice somewhere but how He expands over everything, even over the very woods I'm walking through. It's this big, great, incredible, encompassing God that I wish we were talking more of.
It's hard, I know. It's hard to put that God into words. It's hard to explain who that God is when it's so much easier to pull Him into the details of our own experience. When it seems so rational to us to show someone God through human eyes, our eyes. And to an extent, that seems to mean taking them on our journey.
But let's not forget that it has never been God who hides from His people. It is we, His people, who hide from God. Adam and Eve in the garden, for example. They buried themselves in the bushes and here was God wide out in the open, but the only glimpse they saw of Him was through scattered leaves. The only way they could get back to Him was to unburden themselves of the bushes.
Jonah tried to high tail it out of there on a boat, which found him in the sea, which found him in the whale. And where was God? Still talking to Jonah, but in order for Jonah to get to God, he had to find a way out of the belly of the whale. God was faithful to provide one, but it was no pleasant journey for Jonah.
We spend our time hiding from God in one way or another, then digging through our own mess in an attempt to rediscover Him. When we do, we're enthralled. We found God!
God was never missing. We never have to find Him. He's always standing in the open, watching and waiting. Talking to us all the way. Coaxing us to find our way out, too. To come to Him.
Our stories about God are much more complicated than they ever need to be. We tell stories like, 'I prayed every night for three months and finally, there it was! God. And the answer I was looking for.' Or 'Nothing was going right, and I needed something different and when I was able to figure out what exactly that might be, I just felt this clarity and all of a sudden, there was God and I didn't even know how I got there.'
That's all great.
It's just that the greater story is God. The greater story - the story I wish we would tell a little more (even though our seeking adventures sound fun and exciting, promising even) - is that there is this good and gracious God who simply is.
And when we've needed Him, it's not about the thicket or the underbrush or twists and turns or this grand adventure or blazing new paths or cutting new trails or weaving our way through. Every time we've needed - at least in my own experience - this God who simply is, we find Him simply to be.
It's not about the God we've found. It's about the God who is.
It doesn't say so much about how thirsty we are as a people. It doesn't make us sound as noble as our search for God.
But it says a whole lot about who God is, and that's the story I'd rather be telling. How about you?