Sometimes, I confess, I find myself asking the question: Where is God?
Where is God?
Now, you might ask, what do I mean? Perhaps you think, “You’re a pastor and you’re asking where God is?”
Here’s the thing: it’s one thing to know something and it’s another to experience something.
For example, I know God can do mighty things. I know he can act in spectacular ways. With the Lord, the miraculous is possible.
Yet so many of our churches and ministries are struggling. And sometimes—despite the theology I have in my head—I just don’t know what to make of it all. I mean, I can have some grasp of the cultural and historical forces that have led us to this moment we’re in. But God is infinitely bigger than and sovereign over all of this.
That’s why I ask: Where is God?
Or perhaps I should put it this way: What should or can we expect of God here and now? What should our experience of God be?
Over the last couple of years our world—and therefore our churches—have been pummelled by the realities of COVID. We’re all exhausted by the whole thing, one way or another.
Yet, I think it’s fair to ask: What do we want to see happen in our churches? What do we want from God?
But maybe that doesn’t quite get to the heart of it all. Maybe those questions are still “keeping-God-at-arms-length” questions. Maybe we need to be more willing to dig deeper. Be more self-aware.
God, after all, isn’t here to make stuff happen for us or to give us stuff we want. That’s a consumer Christianity God.
Our God—the God who reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is a living and active God, one who doesn’t fit into our boxes, traditions, and preferences. He moves. He acts. He reveals. He brings light into darkness. He does as he chooses.
Thanks be to God that he chooses to act in love!
Maybe we need to ask God for eyes to see and ears to hear. Maybe we need to be open to his presence in ways that are painful and uncomfortable at first but ultimately healing and renewing. Maybe we need to wait and listen and be still rather than rush to human solutions and strategies.
And maybe even as churches we need to confess, to repent, to admit our own complacency and own our complicity in the situation we find ourselves in.
Our God also calls and invites. He beckons and woos. He seeks to convict and change us. He seeks to make something new of us. He wants to pour his transforming love and grace in us to overflowing, so that we become vessels of his good news. But do we want this?
We ask: Where is God? Isn’t it possible that God is right here? Isn’t it possible that he is waiting for his people to approach him, to beseech him, to fall on their knees before him, to acknowledge their desperate need for him?
Yes, we can ask: Where is God?
Maybe the better question is: Do we want God? Do we really want to enter the presence of this God? Are we prepared to let this God undo us and our ways? Especially if this is indeed the route to life, wholeness, and peace?
I conclude as I began. I confess that I don’t always want God. But I want to want God—more than I sometimes do. I have moments when I want God more, and moments when I want God less. My desire for God ebbs and flows. It can be a trickle one day, and a roaring waterfall the next.
Maybe once we as Christians and as churches begin wanting God more than what we want from God, our eyes and ears will begin to open. Perhaps then not only will we begin to experience answers to our prayers, but will find that our very prayers are changed because we find ourselves desiring God more than what he can give us.