I’m guessing from time to time many of us feel like God doesn’t even know we exist, let alone loves us or wants to be involved in our lives. Or maybe we have followed him – done all the right things and it seems he is deaf to our cries and unaware of our struggles. I know it’s the reason some give up on faith. ‘I tried… but I just couldn’t connect… couldn’t hear him, feel him and so on…’
No amount of reasoning, logic and philosophising can replace a tangible experience of a relational God. At some point, in some way we need to encounter God – personally – in a way we can remember and come back to – otherwise the whole ‘relationship with God’ thing just sounds like a very hollow mantra.
I try to spend the first 30 minutes or so of each day reading the Bible, meditating and praying, and I probably have as many ‘significant’ days where I sense God in the words of the story, as I do ‘insignificant’, where it feels like God didn’t show up, or maybe he was tired too…
Lately I’ve been reading Genesis which doesn’t really sound like a book that is easy to engage with reflectively, but its actually been great, especially for reminding me of how much I just haven’t yet got a hold of.
I was disturbed again by God’s shoddy treatment of Cain – because his offering wasn’t up to scratch, I was puzzled again by the whole Babel story (I should have this one under wraps by now right?…) and there have been enough of these bizarre incidents that I’m thinking one day I might just do a sermon series on ‘all the stuff I still don’t understand’.
But this morning I did understand what I was reading and it was worth sharing, so here goes…
Abram and his wife Sarai have been in Canaan 10 years and still no child as promised… I agree with Sarai that 10 years is a fair wait. Its not like she didn’t give God a fair crack to deliver the much promised child. Surely we would also be thinking ‘we heard God wrong’, or whatever the ‘explanatory language’ is that your tribe uses.
So she tells Abram to get it on with Hagar and hopefully that will bring a child into the world. I know Genesis 30:1-3 is credited with being the basis for the Handmaid’s Tale, but I think this passage suggests Hagar might be the original ‘handmaid’, not that she wanted that ‘honour’.
So Abram sleeps with Hagar, she gets pregnant, despises Sarai who then gets down on her and as a result she does a runner. She is an Egyptian slave, used as a baby incubator and now pregnant and on the run from her mistress with whom she is in conflict. – not a happy place to be. She is hiding in the desert when an angel shows up to speak to her.
Ok – so what mental image came to mind when I just said angel? Hold that thought for later.
Its documented as a very brief encounter, but essentially it’s a conversation between the angel and Hagar, where he acknowledges her plight and tells she will have a son named Ishmael – for whom things won’t go so well.
But it’s the next section that is significant, where she reflects on what has happened. She realises she is not alone in the world as this God ‘sees her’.
13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
That was enough for her – to know that God ‘sees her‘ and to know that he is aware of what is going on. I have lost count of the number of people who have told me that it seems God has forgotten them, or his silence is destroying them. I wonder why he doesn’t show up more often like this – in the form of an angel – and just put the doubts to rest.
Or maybe he does – maybe angels aren’t glowing white with wings, but are just other people – ordinary people even – sent by God to let us know that he ‘sees us’, he hasn’t forgotten us and he is not looking away.
Interestingly it doesn’t answer all the ‘why’ questions that Hagar must have had at being used as a baby machine, but it does just say ‘I am with you’ and I have not forgotten you.
Maybe that’s enough.
God sees you.
The Golden thread.
I have realised that God is NEVER quiet. He is always talking to us. Sometimes He speaks, but 99.9% of the time his voice is a subtle gentle whisper; a trail of microscopic gold dust carried in the wind for us to find. Easy to hear his voice? Not all all ! and most of the time we completely miss it and that frustrates us on many levels. Why does God make it so hard?
Humans are impossible to please. We declare our free will and independence as the pinnacle of God’s creation making our own way and choices through this universe not tolerating being told what to do, yet we expect God to be like google instantly shouting the answers at us in full and bold colours telling us exactly what to do.
God does not and “cannot” tell us what to do. When we made the choice in the garden of Eden to allow the knowledge of good and evil to be part of being human, we were also given the choice to choose between good and evil. That puts the responsibility to choose God and find God in our control – free will.
And if you make that choice to choose and find God that responsibility comes with eternal sustained hard work. (My interpretation of Gen 3, 17-19). And with sustained in depth hard work, learning, seeking and trying to understand God through all the avenues available to us, we might be able, if we are lucky to pick up a few of those microscopic gold dust specks leading us on our way back to Eden and Gods embrace.
So let us get back to the question: Why does God make it so hard to hear him?
He didn’t choose to make it hard, we did! We made that choice to make it hard.
If we accept and acknowledge the consequence of our choice we made, God has given us a way back without stepping on our precious human egos by telling us what to do. He has given us free will and left us a subtle path of gold dust if we are willing to do the hard yards.
In the words of Garry Player. “The more I practice, the luckier I get”
Gods whispers are interweaved in time and space all around us. It is in what you see what you hear, on the TV, on the radio, in the Bible, in your thoughts, how you feel. Its everywhere all the time. But you have to work hard and practice to find it. And when you do celebrate and treasure it. If it was easy everyone would do it.
Just keep swimming
Nice to hear from you mate!
And great thoughts – I imagine we would be much better at hearing God were it not for our own self inflicted brokenness.
Funny you should comment – I was just thinking about you today 🙂
Just following your advice about writing down my thoughts.
If I don’t do it in the moment its gone. If I wait ten minutes my RAM is filled with other ideas 🙂
I’d suspect she was willing for the opportunity to be “used as a baby machine” in this setting, but you’ve already overlooked the personal and social implications in that society with what appear to be 21st century eyes even though they are key to understanding her falling out with Sarai. But like your buddy above says “Humans are impossible to please.” and also free to chose how they read stuff (and write stuff).
I find this disappointing, even though you’re doing it to “try to make a good point”. I’d thought you were a bit deeper than that.
I guess I’m just shallow and oblivious