My mom told me recently that the first time she ever felt me move in her womb was during a congregational hymn at – of all places – a Bill Gothard convention. The irony of that location alone makes me snort a bit – and to be perfectly honest, the hymn that made me dance then has been making me snort even more lately, for the irony that “How Great Thou Art” has been the song in my head for as long as I can remember, and it is, in a way, the very last song I want to sing right now.
All my life, He has been my safe place in my music. I wasn’t ever meant to compete, or even to lead worship in church – it was a special line of communication between me and Himself, a way of speaking my prayer, of listening to Him. It has always been what He has used to open my heart to Him, whether I am singing, or playing piano. It is where I know He cares about me, where I understand Him, where I am allowed to fly. There *is* no edge of the cliff to stay away from when I sing – except when I have been angry with Him.
It’s not that He even deserves my anger lately – I don’t think, anyway. His challenge to me to ask Him for weddings has become quite the conversation, and it is almost May and I haven’t asked because I am afraid that He will let me down, and on the days I am not, I am afraid that I don’t know how to ask properly to get what I want, and I am afraid of wanting what I want enough to ask Him for it and risk wanting Him to weigh in on my life in a tangible, practical way. And I am afraid of “no” and “too much” and of His saying “yes” and then being overwhelmed with things I don’t want, because “relationship” and “love” is never as easy as “oh that’s beautiful” – it is always “exquisite,” like crucifixion, and suffering, and “diverse temptations.”
Last weekend He went into “ye have not because ye ask not” with me, and “if your son asks you for bread, do you give him a stone?” and then a wedding I really, really wanted to shoot went to another photographer, along with a piece of my heart. I felt less. Worthless. Shattered. And so. very. angry.
Because as much as I believe He is good, I do not believe that I have a right to expect that His particular goodness would extend my direction, and I know that I know that I know that He is not a “vending machine” God, only there to answer my prayers like some cosmic genie in order to get what I want. I know that I don’t deserve anything, that I have no right to expect anything from Him. He is God after all. He’s most interested in His own glory.
I told Him to screw off.
And then the next day I found myself breathing the words, “Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made…”
I wanted to smack myself, walking the edge of that cliff that suddenly reared itself before me. No way was He safe enough for me to handle sending that particular song His way. No way was I ready to acknowledge His greatness if I couldn’t desire – or accept, or ask for – His greatness in my own life.
It has been fun to imagine it this year as I’ve thought about asking for weddings. To think about what I might see happen if He really does do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or imagine. It has been wonderful to consider what “being childlike” in my faith could mean for my walk with Him.
But I am not childlike. Holy wow, I am not childlike. I am a fighter and a control freak and I think I know the whole story and if I don’t know it, I am CERTAIN it will not be good if I cannot guarantee the outcome I want.
I’m stuck, you know? Wanting Him, not being sure I want Him, knowing through to my marrow that He is great and He is God and He loves me and deserves my praise, knowing how utterly empty I am without Him. Like the Psalmist said, His love hems me in both behind and before – He has laid His hand on me from the time I was in my mother’s womb, and my freedom is also the thing that constrains me, that holds me back from doing and seeking whatever and I want with my life without acknowledging Him.
GOD, I wish knowing Him was only about “doing the right thing.” I wish it didn’t involve desire and my whole heart and all my strength and all of the self He created – and is recreating – in me. I wish He could just be God-up-there and worry about all the spiritual stuff. This whole God-with-us thing is throwing me. I can like Him just fine so long as He doesn’t really want to be involved in my life.
But I need Him so much. I need Him to be concerned about my needs and my desires and the little things that make me happy. I need to know He doesn’t just care about everybody else, and even then just the big things. I need to know that somehow His desire for His own glory means that I have a place with Him even when my world seems to be falling apart at the seams, even when disappointment and thwarted desire challenge my ability to trust that God-who-is-great really does work all things together for the good of those whom He has called.
I am *in* it right now. I don’t know how to ask for weddings anymore than I did last Friday, and I trust Him less now, especially with all the logistical issues after the baby is born. I worry that He will just say “no” (when He has intimated that He has a “yes” for me!), and that all this business-building and investment I have done has just been a joke. It all feels like a joke at the moment. Except being His and not wanting it but wanting it more than anything.