Sunday, May 18, 2014

God is Not a Magic 8-Ball

"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do— He reveals to you who He is." - Oswald Chambers


So I'm sitting at my desk, slowly eroding a mountain of math papers and waiting for God to do something. You know the feeling. We know we're supposed to be faithful right where we are, but sometimes we're antsy. Urgh, God...what's next?

Especially if you have to change jobs in the next month and you've got applications out in the wind. The anxiety is a constant companion. A nervous, not entirely unpleasant pit in the stomach. I know God's moving. I just don't know where, or when. And I'd really like to know, rather than discouraging silence every day.

Finally, calls start coming in. My applications have been seen. "Are you available to interview next week?"

Sweetest words ever. Immediately, the pit is replaced by excitement.

It only lasts a couple days, but for a little while, I'm stoked. A great vacation from that up-in-the-air feeling. I'm happy just to see even a hint of movement.

And...is that right?

I mean, on one level, sure, I'm only human. This is natural. But on another level, I'm called to greater things.

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" - John 20:29

...were Jesus' words to the doubters. Thomas and I would get along. He was human. He'd been disappointed before. He wanted to believe, as his confession "My Lord and my God!" indicates. He just didn't want his hopes up. He thought he needed more.

I, too, want God to be my magic 8-ball.

You know how it is. We bring our next move to God - "Should I apply to this college? Should I date/marry her? Should I quit my job? Is this all going to work out?" And we sit back and pray in expectation of a response.

Hopefully it's one of the positive responses. "Yes, definitely." "Without a doubt." "You may rely on it." I'll even take the more reserved "Most likely."

Sometimes, a small part of us is content even to hear a negative. "Very doubtful." "Don't count on it." Because at least then we know.

Instead, my interviews are concluded, and I'm back to the waiting and the grading and getting "Ask again later." "Reply hazy, try again." "Better not tell you now."

WHY NOT, GOD??!?!

I mean, the waiting is easy. Heck, I'm an expert in waiting by now. I just want to know how long I'll be waiting, and where I'll be going after that. Then the wait will be easier. A piece of cake.

In other words...godless.

We ask God for a lot of things, and God is generous. But one thing he'll never give us is something that frees us from needing him in the here and now.

This is why God's will is tough to track down sometimes, even for the faithful. It's why he might often leave us hanging for a long time - perhaps until the last minute - for a direction or resolution. As Steven Furtick said, God sometimes makes it "a process of hide and seek - he hides the answer so we'll seek him." We want to know God's calendar and master plan, rather than his heart. There's a difference. Maybe we don't realize what we're doing, but surely we can all admit the relief we feel when God shows us the next step, right? I kinda just want that.

It's not that God doesn't care about my anxiety and uncertainty. In fact, he cares very much. And that's the point. He wants to deal with my anxiety himself, to salve it himself - not with answers or direction, but with himself. With his presence. By teaching me, through his word, that he's attentive and involved and powerful.

I don't say this lightly. God isn't a harsh teacher who plays mind games. We're not talking about Calvin's dad here, someone who makes his kid take the hardest way possible because it "builds character". Delayed directions can be excruciating, and our heart is understandably bound up in them. God knows that.

But, at the same time...I need character. I need to know God. And before the go/no-go arrives, he wants to show me just how wonderful his presence is.

Hopefully, my wait will be over today. Maybe even by the time you read this. I just hope that God has found me faithful during this time to hear well the one thing I know God wants me to hear: "Let me care about your heart. Don't rely on some circumstance to reassure it. Bring it to me."

That is always his line.

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