God creates the path

Published April 20, 2015 by

Have you ever found yourself on the run from God? I have. I think it is a normal experience within a life of faith, but it’s no fun.

 

When this has happened to me, I experience it like speed-walking down a hallway with no doors. Or driving on a highway with no exits. Of course there ARE doors, and there ARE exits, but it seems that there are not. I am aware of the disconnect and I don’t like it, but the further I step away from God, the more of a “fast lane” it seems to be. Like getting lost in an unfamiliar city, simply turning around becomes over-complicated.

 

I’m not sure why it happens. It can happen when a routine of prayer or devotions undergoes a change, when there is a shock or disappointment, or even after a season of nearness. Maybe these weeks following Easter are a danger zone of sorts. After celebration, there can be a let-down. Perhaps we are like teenagers who love their parents, but who suddenly and unexplainably get embarrassed by nearness, and break the embrace, or drop eye contact, or slam the door. It is in these moments in our life with God that we find ourselves in that long hallway.

 

I think King David in the Bible knew that long hallway. And yet, he also knew that God is never far away. He poignantly says: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) Anywhere he tried to run, God was there.

 

If someone is moving away from God, slamming doors, picking up speed, and yet longing for God, what can they do about it? Well, what did David do? Eventually he just throws his hands in the air and admits that God is God. And that he is not. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

 

The answer is that simple. We return to God not by trying to fix everything, by finding the right exit, by opening the heavy door, or by sniffing out our own trail gone cold. We return to God by simply crying out “Help me! Find me!”

 

We humans are nothing if not inconsistent. And this is a challenge when in relationship with an unchanging and utterly reliable God. We can’t help but be inadequate to the task. That’s what confession is for. That’s what forgiveness is for. The goal of a life of faith is not perfection, but honesty.

 

The Bible speaks of an unforgivable or eternal sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:29). What does that mean? If we claim that God is not present, not in communication with us, not alive and moving, then there is no way back. If we deny our need for God, then who will give us forgiveness? We have entered a “doom loop.” We are incapable of forging our own path to God. The only way “back” to God is to stop and cry out for help, and allow God to bridge the gap. He is the only One able to do it. And if we deny the very possibility of a bridge, we will never call on God for it, nor will we ever cross it.

 

If you have been wandering from God and wondering how you will find your way back, the bad news is that you can’t. The good news is that God CAN. Why don’t you join David and me and all the other sinners out there and send up a flare today – a cry for help. Divine love is waiting on the other side of any door you slammed for just a word of invitation from you. Utter it, and watch God swing the heavy door open, flooding your endless hallway with overwhelming light and inviting you to begin again.

(This first appeared as a column in the Mining Journal newspaper 4/18/2015)

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