In the pre-dawn hours of any big decision, or in the midst of even a small personal crisis, or in general conversation with the upper crust of the spiritual elite, we hear the questions.
How is your walk with God?
What is God teaching you lately?
Have you prayed about it?
You'd love to pause at this moment, because right now you don't have answers. You want to give a good Sunday school reply, and talk about how much God is teaching you, or how wonderful your quiet times have been lately, or that you've devoted the past 24 hours to fasting and prayer, and right now you'd give anything to eat a few fries and a Chick-fil-a sandwich.
Really though, most of all, you'd love to be honest. Having a walk with God, a relationship with Jesus, or a life full of faith is not easy. Worse, it's not even perfectly defined or laid out in a well-organized manner.
Why is that? Why is having a close relationship with the God who created us so...tricky?
First of all, God is invisible. I'm sure you already know this, but this basic fact causes us to stumble pretty easily. It requires great faith to believe in a God who not only do we not see, we cannot hear or touch. It requires abundant faith to believe that the God of the Bible is one who created the entire universe and everything in it in just 6 days. More so, the belief that God's Son died an impossible death only to walk away from his burial tomb 3 days later to eventually ascend into heaven. Those realities are hard to comprehend on the surface, so they require deep faith.
Talking to someone you cannot see or hear isn't easy. We're not contractors putting in a work request where we'll get confirmation that the job has been completed. We pray, and ask, and perhaps even beg, but when and how do we know that God has answered our prayers? The takeaway is often too one-sided. We either give ourselves so much credit that God is left out in the cold, completely ignored. Or we praise God with such great ferocity that it would seem that we have done nothing at all, and really anyone in the world could've gained such an achievement regardless of how hard they worked.
We learn in scripture of many faithful men and women we walked closely with God and experienced Him in amazing ways. What does that look like for us though? There are no burning bushes or man-swallowing fish in the 21st century. How can we experience God, converse with God, and know God in today's world?
Maybe to start, we need to slow down. Or not just slow down, but come to a screeching halt. Psalm 46:10 says to "be still and know that I am God." We can profess that God is who He says He is, but when are we actually still? When do we pause for a moment or two and let the word of God speak?
No wonder it's often awkward talking to God. We have no time to actually listen to Him! To hear what He really wants us to hear. Sometimes that's more than a paragraph from a devotional and a sliver of a Bible verse. Sometimes God wants to spend quality time with us. After all, what sense does it make that someone would give their only Son over to death because of His great love for us, but then never want to talk to us again?
I admit that I get skeptical of those who claim they've gained such big revelations from God. I also recognize part of this skepticism is because I so rarely seek to hear from Him in my own life. Besides, what would He say to me anyway?
I think of Job. I think of his questioning God of all the things that went on in his life, the loss of family, possessions, friends, etc. Like his wife asked him, what was he holding on to? He questioned God. He, like many of us, wanted to hear from the Creator of the universe. He wanted to hear from the very one who designed every fiber of his being, and allowed for all the circumstances of his life to take place. God's response to Job was epic.
"Who is this that questions my wisdom
with such ignorant words?
Brace yourself like a man,
because I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.
Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?" (Job 38:1-7)
God goes on. And on and on and on. In the rest of chapter 38 in Job and on through the next several chapters, quizzing Job on things he couldn't understand, let alone do himself. This was all rhetorical. God didn't want a reply from Job as much as He needed Job to understand that the God that created everything about Job and everything He loves not only has to power to re-create anything, but also the power to destroy anything. This can be unnerving. Actually, it is. But just like Aslan in C.S. Lewis' fictional world of Narnia, God is not always safe. He isn't manageable or easy going. He's not easily consumable. He's not fitting well into your sterile container. He isn't bound to your rules and expectations.
But He is good.
He does love You more than you can fathom.
And that, above all other questions we surmise of things not perfectly understood, matters most.
Talking to God isn't awkward because of anything He's doing. It's because we won't slow down and just be in awe of who He is.