February 18, 2008

My bottomless God

Today’s reading from God is Enough challenges me. While I often express wonder at those who wait until all their resources are exhausted before they call on the Lord, the Holy Spirit says to me to pay more attention to myself. I do it too.

In Psalm 62:5, the psalmist says, “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Today’s reading narrows that expectation. It says Christians may assume they are relying on God, but are really relying on something about God or related to God, not God Himself.

This isn’t hairsplitting. God asks me to put all my expectations on Him, not on what I know about Him or how I feel about Him. My trust is not in His goodness in giving me things to do, nor in my prayers or their fervency, nor in what I think He will do in response to my problems. Trusting in God alone is just that—depending on Him without any caveats attached to my expectations.

I’m aware that many people reach out on every side for something to depend on, and not until everything else fails will they put their trust in God alone. However, while I look down on those who trust themselves, other people, books, and so on, I’ve trusted other things too, more subtle perhaps, but things that are outside of that “God alone” definition.

It is only the failure of these more subtle resources that make me realize what I am doing. I pray for things based on the truths I know from Scripture. God is silent. I pray with deep emotion and desire. God is silent. I pray when I’m filled with His Spirit. God is silent. I pray when I feel that He is close and listening to me. God is silent. I pray when I am sure of His will, and again, God is silent.

All this happens to teach me to quit dancing around the perimeters of God. As I realize what I am doing, I also realize how much this challenges what I think about God. Even the image of dancing around Him brings out another image—I’ve been thinking of God as a great and unknown abyss. If I get too close, I will fall into a depth that has no bottom. No matter how much I know about Him, there is still that sense of not knowing Him at all. Each problem or situation requiring that I totally trust God means a leap into that unknown.

I argue that I do know God, but do I? If my knowledge is based only on my experiences of Him, then I’m back to what I’ve claimed and won from the Bible, or to those high points when He did answer prayer, or did great things for me that I could see. Would I trust Him if I could not see truth about Him, or He never answered my prayers, or did anything visible for me? I’ve already learned that while He is “unchanging” the things He does in answer to prayer are not at all repetitious. Each response is new and unexpected. While His past faithfulness should encourage me to take the plunge, that sense of never being totally certain becomes a waltz or a two-step. Part of me wants to feel the safety of knowing what comes next.

Instead, this bottomless God, who makes no certain guarantees to those who dance around His edges, asks me to just trust Him, nothing else. Can I plunge right into that abyss leaving my edges behind me and do that? Can I trust only Him, the Him that I cannot fathom or see or understand with the onslaughts of life?

Now I understand those who run to a friend, or a psychologist, or a doctor, or a how-to book, or to all sorts of other resources before they run to God. Our edges may not be the same, but our dance is, and our fears are. We are not sure about this God who asks us to simply trust Him, put all our expectations in Him. We don’t have a clue what will happen next and in that fear of the black unknown, we put our faith in whatever worked before because that seems easier than jumping into an abyss.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad for this piece...this about sums up the the experience I have had in my walk with God precisely from Jan 2007 to date....Please keep allowing God to use you in writing these wonderfully transparent and extremely practical issues about being a child of God.