8am. “I’m gonna be late,” I thought. I was rushing from the gym to my car, hurriedly putting on my jacket and switching my gym bag from one shoulder to the other, and I got asked a question:
“Can we hang out more?”
You know the moment when someone asks you for the last piece of chocolate and inwardly you say, “are you for real?”, that’s how I felt when the question popped into my head. “God”, I said, “are you for real?”
God was for real. He was pressing me because I like to think I can do it all and be fine without him.
I don’t have a lot of free time. Anything that tries to bump into my calendar has to compete with my digital agency job, wide group of friends and blog (aka side hustle). Good luck.
What did I do with the question? I ignored it. I filed the request alongside, “must fill in report on Monday,” “oh, what a cool story idea,” and “I’m running low on peanut butter.” Essentially this was my response: “yeah but God, I have loads to do. I’m sure you understand. We’re fine. Right? Right…?”
Wrong. I went about life and the quiet suggestion slipped through the cracks in my mind as unnoticed as a shy child in a classroom of 48.
“Run the new division at work”, my brain told me.
“Get up and train in the morning, catch up with this person and that person, write, help the team at church and, and, and…”
The more I worked, the more that first question "can we hang out", was ignored. Soon, I forgot about it.
After a while all the working left me tired, disillusioned, exhausted and fearful. Like leather shoes without polish, I had no perspective, was overused and out of shape.
Peace factor: low. Discontent factor: high.
“Can we hang out?” The second time I heard the question I listened. It’s amazing how quickly you come crawling back, ready to listen, when you aren’t feeling like Mrs Incredible.
“Hi…? Um, I’m not feeling great…Bit confused and all over the place…Hanging out? I'm in.”
Why does it take us so long to realise we need God?
This amazing, kind-of-crazy, thing we call faith isn’t not built on possessions or pride- it’s built on humility. The problem is: we don’t want to admit we need God and we don’t want to change how we are doing things to factor him in. We want to do it our way. We want to build big careers, big houses, big muscles, big bank accounts and bigger cars.
I think it takes us so long to listen to and realise we need God because, for a while, we actually are okay without him. We’re okay until things fall apart. We’re okay until our big career takes a dip, or our big bank account is no longer quite so big. When the things we’ve built are taken away, we’re forced to think, “hmmmm maybe I don’t have it all together as much as I thought I did”.
Our culture says “look at me!”
Everyone (in the Western World at any rate) is chasing success like it’s an elusive Pokemon Go. The more “got it together” and perceived success you have, the more everyone thinks you’re great. The more followers on social media, degrees, money, friends, cute outfits, perfect families and ticked boxes the better you are, it tells us. Our culture has taught us the idea: “I’ve got this, I’m fine and I’m doing well.”
Its message is in opposition to humility, the key to accepting God’s strength and help- no wonder we struggle to come to him.
Do it my way, or I’ll ignore you
God doesn’t answer every question we have. And those he does, he doesn’t always do in a way we understand. Many times, even though I know my logic is backwards, I forget about humility and become angry at him. I feel frustrated. I feel entitled to answers. I feel annoyed and here’s what I do: I ignore God. “Clearly,” I say to him, “you don’t care about me enough to answer my questions. I’m going to ignore you and hurt you back.”
Playing an ignoring game with God is setting yourself up for failure. Also, being angry at God is a horrible feeling to nurse (especially when you know how good it is to not be angry at God). It’s far far better to be humble and far far better to say, “I don’t understand everything, but I trust you and it’s ok.”
You never graduate from needing God
Sometimes I want to cut corners. I’ve heard all the sermons. I know the “typical” responses to all the usual life questions. I can even say prayers that sound deep and spiritual.
If we start to think excessively about these things, then we’ve lost the destination in the journey. This faith walk is not about the practices, it’s about a real living relationship. And for that time and humility are required.
No amount of work or people can ever be a substitute for the faithful, kind, gracious love of God and time with him. In my heart of hearts, I know this and you probably do too. Let's get better together at hearing the questions. Let's get better at building the things that matter most. Let's keep a humble heart, learn to be quiet and hang out more with the source of inner strength.
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