Sometimes, God

If I could only shake the feeling that God isn’t hearing me.

I know everyone has times when he or she feels like normal praying isn’t working. There is a request on the divine table, and God hasn’t responded.

In spite of praying prayers of specificity, the plate before the supplicant remains empty. And the plate has been empty for a long time.

The scriptures say that no person who puts a hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God, so I don’t look back. I look up. I strain to see God, looking up, and I don’t see her …but I know she’s there. And how about this: even though I don’t see her, I am not about to look BACK or take my hand off the plow.

But really, this “waiting- for -the -answer” time has been longer than long. It has been protracted.

I say to my friends that I am on punishment. God is chastising me for something. When I look back over my life, I can see reason why God might want to do that …

But this “punishment” has gone on a little long, even by what I have come to know as God’s standards. “Kairos,” or God’s time, is not supposed to be a time of suspended anticipation, is it?

I don’t ask God for much. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I should have been asking God for more all along. But I didn’t and I don’t, and maybe that’s why this particular prayer is taking so long to be heard. Maybe God doesn’t know my voice, or maybe God thinks I don’t really need what I am asking for.

How wrong you are, God. How wrong you are.

I am in spiritual labor, but the baby will not move down into the birth canal. That’s the best way to describe this. I am having contractions. I know the answer is there and it wants to come … but it will not. And, like physical labor, spiritual labor hurts.

But the process must continue; a birth will happen. Seeds of God’s love and promises have been planted in my very soul, and we know that in the parable of the sower, it is made clear that seeds planted will indeed yield a harvest.

So, I wait and push and wait and sit in silence and let God push and pull as the head of this birthing process… I moan sometimes, but actually, now I am so tired that hardly a sound can come from me. It’s been too long.

The good thing about this is that I, as a pastor, can share this experience with others. Whenever someone looks at me with confusion, wondering where God is, I will be able to say, “Well, sometimes, God … ” and can add the bits and pieces of my own labor without divulging the details.

But I have to say that I am not impressed with this wait. So, today I will be in prayer in a deeper way… so that if there is anything I missed in cleaning myself out I can fix, so that those spaces can be filled with God.

I will do that because those spaces so need to be filled with God’s answer, presence and peace.

That is … a personal candid observation.

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Comments

  1. I read Eat, Pray, Love while on a long airplane ride recently. Story number #55 had a wonderful quote, it went something like, you cannot see your reflection in running water, the water must be still.
    I wonder when I am not “hearing” an answer from God if I have been “still” enough or am I running.
    Sometimes when I get excited, talking to a friend or family, we cut each other off and talk at the same time and keep the conversation going, and most of the time it works. But sometimes, things are lost.
    I just wonder, if the stillness, not just a pause, but a prolonged period of stillness is what we all need to really hear.
    Our time is not God’s time for sure, and yes we need God’s presence and peace, but I wonder if it is like water behind a dam waiting to rush in, but like a beaver we keep plugging in the holes, fixing up the leaks, rather than letting the whole thing just go, let the presence and peace of God rush in and flood our lives.
    Not really sure… praying with you today.

  2. Thank you for the realness of this piece. So often we see clergy scared to share openly and honestly about personal struggles. Clergy teach, preach and minister but if you really want to reach those in need, we must be able to share in the humanness of your struggles as well.
    Seven long years I prayed and asked God for something with no response and I didn’t understand why. Why did I have to wait so long? Where was God and why wouldn’t She talk to me? My spirit was nearing bankruptcy as I continued to ask why, why, why. Everyone else had it. It seemed cruel that God would make me watch everyone else enjoy the thing I desired, never having a chance to enjoy it for myself. I felt like a window shopper always observing other people’s happiness never really feeling worthy enough to enjoy it for myself. Kairos, chronos, it didn’t matter it all felt crappyos. I thought I had done the work needed to get a yes answer, yet every time God presented me with a test to see if I was ready to receive it I failed and I felt the shame and guilt of the failure. Until one Sunday I heard the lesson entitled “Just One More Week”. In it I was reminded that sometimes God just wants us to hold on tight, move closer and steady ourselves no matter what the outcome. During this sermon I asked myself the question, “What if it never comes? What if I never get a yes answer?” Will I still trust, will I still believe? The sermon reminded me to ready myself and put myself in a position to be blessed. That meant actually visualizing how my life would be when I received what I had been praying for. I thought about what that meant for me. As it turns out it meant that I simply needed to believe that I was worthy of having it and that God wanted me to be happy. I emailed my pastor and told her that the thing I had been waiting one more week for was not a thing at all. It was yet another level of understanding of what true faith had become for me.
    The following week the lesson was titled “Unexpected Blessings”. It confirmed what I had learned in the prior lesson. When God is ready to do what God does it happens, and rarely with warning, for on that Sunday after service I was blessed with what I had prayed for and more. God will not give us anything we are not ready for. Likewise, God loves us enough to make sure that whatever we are being blessed with is perfect for us when we get it. So maybe it’s not just about why we can’t have it now or what have I done or not done to ready myself for it. It may be that whatever we desire is not yet ready for us. Looking back on those seven years of praying, crying and moaning about what I didn’t have, I now thank God that I didn’t get it a moment sooner than it was presented. I just wasn’t ready; I would have used and abused it. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate or value it and I certainly would not have been able to recognize it as the unexpected blessing it was intended to be. Praying for your strength and perseverance through God’s readying process. Peace!

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