I may have detected a flaw in our western brand of Christian faith. Maybe you should sit down.
I think that, if we expect God to work at all, we expect him to work instantly.
We march to the orders of the clock, not to the rhythms of the seasons and sunsets and cows. We have no patience for God or for lines in the grocery store. We’re little kids handing him the mess we call our lives and demanding, Fix it.
And the repairs must happen exactly the way I dictate to you.
And you must get that back to me by 5 on Friday.
Or I am going to hold my breath.
But he is at work. He is the God who never sleeps, always fixes, who enters history but isn’t a slave to it. Maybe, under the tantrums, we know this. We would just prefer that he speed up the process: Two and half steps to reconciliation. Joy in a microwaveable packet. Deliver us from the evil one, and traffic, and bad hair days, amen.
Slow and steady, behind the scenes, whispers in the mountaintops? Please be more fantastic.
I’ve had friends, beautiful friends, whose walks with God sounded like Adam strolling in the cool of the day. I can’t even speak straight before 10 AM, but they emerged from morning devotions with their faces glowing like Moses, armed with the answers and advice and Neosporin for the soul that I couldn’t seem to unearth, no matter how many times I handed the whole mess over to him.
I hated that my quest for wholeness was taking years, that there were no milestones to mark little successes, that the darkness was unfathomable and constant.
Sunday school teachers love instant Jesus-turned-mess-into-healing stories. God’s in, he’s out, you’re healed, teachable moment, hurrah.
It’s way less impressive to have had a good physical therapist, a journaling habit, a workout routine, a true friend to haul you through your hurt (be it emotional or mental or relational or spiritual or physical or all of the above). God’s no less responsible for weaving you back together, but people probably aren’t scrambling over each other to hear your story.
I expect that God works in more people and stuff in our lives to inch us toward him and toward healing than we typically realize.
My reading list is always dotted with books on people and hurt and healing. (Two that I read and loved last year were Where is God when It Hurts? and Safe People.) Maybe I’m drawn to these because I want to turning healing into a science. I want to do more than listen or dwell with; I want to fix.
What my book list tells me, though, is that people are not an exact science. Present the stages of grief to someone who’s actually grieving and you’ll either shove them back deeper into themselves or get punched in the face. Either way, not a good move.
We’re messy people with a patient God — a God who mysteriously doesn’t always shelter us from bad days, but who is still the God of goodness, of good things on bad days. Yesterday was hellish, but today there were scones and kind strangers, patient friends, a good cry, someone who prayed in your place when you ran out of words.
We’re all on the slow track to restoration. It’s called life.
And fresh wounds do wonders for your writing, and for listening for whispers.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Someday we’ll look back, the pain will have lifted from your chest, and you’ll breathe deeply for the first time in a long time, and even with a long road ahead, you’ll know that, in the tiniest series of insignificant miracles, healing has come.