Day Fourteen: Thinking about my purpose.
Point to Ponder: God is real, No matter how I feel.
Verse to Remember: “For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.'” ~Hebrews 13:5
Question to Consider: How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant?
“God is real, no matter how you feel.”
That is the first line of this chapter, and no matter your religious belief, it is true. Even if you are one of those people that says if I can’t see it, touch it, and feel it, it can’t be there.
We exist because He exists.
We live because He lets us.
We thrive because He wants us to.
He sounds like He could be the kid with an ant colony. Peering in and giving us food from time to time. Letting us live our lives but watching our little world build, shaking us and we crumble.
Then watching us again as we rebuild.
Here is the thing about being a human. We were made in God’s image. We were made with the same emotions and tendancies. If we have an ant colony, even the kindest and most patient people want to shake the ant colony.
Just to see what happens.
No other reason than to make them fall and watch as the ants rebuild their homes. Rebuild their world.
Chapter fourteen is similar to this in that sometimes God strips us of all that we have; then just sits back to wait and see what happens. It’s a cruel joke really. It’s mean, but truly being in the faith and in friendship with Him means knowing that He is there whether He is just watching or being actively involved.
Unlike the kid with the ant farm, God is there to help us rebuild. Even though he is not active and giving you a warm fuzzy feeling that He is still hearing your prayers.
He is checking you on your faith.
How many people at the first sign of stress or failure give up?
How many people seek the warm fuzzies we feel on Sunday morning, but when that feeling disappears during the week between services they fall back to old ways? Not necessarily good or bad, they just give in to temptations. They speak ill of their friends. They do the things that on Sunday morning they criticize others for.
How many people are hippocrites?
The Biblical examples in the book are Job and David. Job lost everything he had and cried out to God. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Although you have lost everything, He is still there. Simply by being there He is worthy of your praise.
David complained of God’s absence, “Why have you foresaken me? Why do you ignore my cries for help? Why have you abandoned me?” He was in constant denial of the fullfilled spirit of God. (You know the warm fuzzies.)
My own personal experience with this comes from when I was a teenager. I was 16. I was one of those fun, good, teenagers who loved to go to church, loved to volunteer for community projects, loved to help families in the neighborhood. I lived with my grandparents at the time and I wanted nothing more than to follow my grandfather around everywhere. We worked in the garden. Built things. I mowed the parts of the yard that he didn’t want to. I learned to cut keys, plant saplings, make weights and smelting metals. I got to do some really cool stuff.
Then he was taken from me. It was February 19, 1997. I was at school that day and had choir practice afterschool for a competition. He went out with our pastor on a fishing trip. They took out the pastor’s little boat, because ours was sanded in from the drought. They were only going to be gone a little while.
The county sheriff was parked in front of our house when we got home from school.
I think it was the only time I had ever riden in Lacee’s moms Legacy, but I can still see the image of the interior. Her mom in front with her sister, and me and Lacee in back. Cops in front of our little stone house.
They searched all through the night and into the next day. I can’t remember now if it was one day or two, but they found him on a cold morning. They being our neighbors, the neighbors who were like a second set of parents. They pulled my grandfather into their boat and held him in tears, just waiting for the search and rescue team to respond to their call.
My little 16 year old world shattered.
Over the course of the next year we had a new pastor start at our church and I felt an immediate connection with them. They were wonderful people who could relate to a younger crowd. The church started growing and changing and the older set didn’t like that. Our new wonderful pastors were pushed out and I quit church.
I quit religion.
I quit and threw myself into work and school and extra activities that didn’t involve churchy people.
These are the times that the book is talking about. I think that if I had read this book before that point in my life I would have remembered all of the things I had talked about doing with my grandfather. All of the big ideas. Big hopes. Big dreams.
But I was so lost and waning in anything but apathy that I just didn’t do anything.
I didn’t get the warm fuzzies from this experience and it handicapped me for the next decade.
So, now we are in 2011, although so much life has happened. I can still remember the immediate ache in my gut that I felt when I found the news of my grandfather. I can remember how pissed off I got at my church for what happened to the pastor.
I know what it is like to lose everyone you are close to just because of a choice that you made. But today, though I maybe like Job who lost everything. I am on the path to rebuild. I am not crying out, “Lord why have you foresaken me?” I am not even asking why. Now I am just accepting that these things will happen. They have to happen.
Our faith is tested in many ways and this is just another test. Like testing a relationship sometimes you just have to sit back and watch.
God must shake our ant colony to see what will happen. He has to know if we are going to roll over and die or simply start to pick up the pieces.
The book asks, “How can I stay focused on God’s presence, especially when he feels distant?”
There really isn’t a way other than to pray. Pray alone. Pray with your church. Pray with your family. Pray with your friends.
Praise be to God, have a blessed weekend.