A text to my radio show:
I’m trying to hear God’s voice. I’m trying to listen. I’ve read that God is always speaking. I want something that isn’t a whimper. Something personal. Something I cannot deny or doubt.
Everything I believe says God wants the same thing. So what is the problem?
I wish I knew your name.
And I wish I knew your name because… my response would sound so much better. Bad news usually does. “I’m afraid you’re asking for something you can’t have” seems somehow harsher than, say, “Tara, I’m afraid you’re asking for something you can’t have.”
But it’s true. You can’t have it. Not yet.
Here, and now, I’m convinced there’s not a thing God could communicate to you that you can’t deny. Nothing He could say would be incontrovertible. And no matter what He did, what miracle He showed you…? You could rebel against it. This is the reality of where we are, now.
Check out the stories in the Bible. People got pillars of fire, and it took about a half-hour before they were bowing down to a golden calf. More “denial”? Peter, one of Jesus’ best friends, got to see miracle after miracle, and his name is now synonymous with the word, “deny”, itself. Doubt? John the Baptist, himself, doubted who Jesus was, after personally baptizing Him.
God fixed the stars in the sky, and holds every atom together. He’s so masterful, our doubt itself is a miracle: Our very consciousness remains unexplained. But doubt, and deny, we do.
You want something that makes it impossible for you to doubt. Problem is, you’re human, and humans can doubt anything. The clear voice of God, itself, can be doubted. (“Was that really Him, really?” “Couldn’t that have been a neural misfire?” “You know, maybe that ‘miracle’ years ago was a coincidence…”)
You want something you can’t have… yet.
But now… the good news:
It seems like you really want more of God. And, from what I read, that’s a really good thing. You’re going to get what you’re looking for.
If you’re frustrated now, you’re in great company. Just look at the Psalms, for instance. David, who wrote many of them, was a man “after God’s own heart” and yet he was left wondering, often, “God, where did you go? Why did you hide your face?” He was left with yearning.
Or look at Paul, whom Jesus recruited with all the subtlety of a two-by-four to the head. Paul had the miracle, the light from Heaven, the conversation with Jesus… and still said we can only see dimly, now, what we will one day see in full. He was left with yearning.
If you want more of God, you’re going to yearn. And yearning isn’t bad. Yearning happens when you are in love. Lovers yearn, when they want, but they cannot fully have. Not yet.
Lovers yearn, but religious people don’t.
Religious people have their rules, and they have them in full. There’s nothing to yearn for. (In fact, when they’re honest, the only thing they might yearn for is a way out.)
But God calls us to relationship, and that means yearning.
Want to experience yearning in another context? Try being engaged to be married, but living a chaste life. I’ve done it. It’s hard. You yearn, and you know what you want, and you know you’re going to get what you want… but not yet. You want more… but not yet.
It’s really, really tough. And, tough as it is, it’s really, really good. Yearning like that – that powerful – only happens because the object of the yearning is that powerful.
And let’s face it. I said “yearning in another context”, but you know what? It’s really not another context: We are promised, in the end, a wedding. Jesus will have His bride, and it’s His people. And He will know us, and we will know Him, fully. Paul wrote as much: “Then I shall know just as I also am known.”
So you’re yearning, and so are we all, but it’s building up to something. Something really, really good.
You’re engaged, and the wedding is going to one amazing party, and knowing God, finally, and truly, is going to be worth it.
There’s nothing wrong with yearning for it.