I felt so bad. I had left in enough time to get there, I thought. But then the minutes ran away from me and I was on my way later than I intended. It got worse. The last time I had been there, a coffee shop had been in that location. It wasn’t there anymore. ARGH! My friend was one place waiting for me. I was in another and completely late. There was no rescue for this moment except to drive to the correct location, apologize profusely and then engage in community. I knew where I was the whole time. My friend wasn’t sure if I was standing her up.
O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Saviour. Psalm 38:21-22 (NIV)
Don’t dump me, God; my God, don’t stand me up. Hurry and help me; I want some wide-open space in my life! Psalm 38:21-22 (MSG)
I kind of felt this way with God this fall. I was feeling out of sorts, uncertain as to where I fit. I wasn’t sure where to serve and how to get involved but I knew I wanted to. I prayed. God was mysteriously quiet. Even in the morning, no songs were waking me up. He had faithfully given me a Song of the Morning all summer – the time of year when usually the well of songs seems to run dry. Now when I felt like he should be showing up, I was convinced God was silent. I felt like God was dumping me for a little while.
My spiritual mentor got wind of my wonderings and added some much needed perspective to the situation. I was asked to consider my perception of God’s silence. Was God really being silent? Or, was I missing the message that He had been giving me all along? I had expected God to communicate with me in the ways that He always had before. What if He was changing it up? What if He was doing that to get my attention? What if I was so lost in my expectations and my hopes that I was missing His desires for me? My mentor cautioned me to consider that the times when God is perceived to be silent are really the times when He is there all along, whispering and drawing me close. It just sounds different. It may feel unusual. But He is there – always.
As David explores his life in Psalm 38, he is full of sorrow for the sin he has committed. Each verse oozes with regret as he walks through the consequences of the choices he’s made. He acknowledges that its bad, that others have joined in on the bandwagon of accusation and guilt lobbing. But David does not give up on God. He waits in expectation for God to intervene (v. 15), he longs for a reprieve for all that he’s going through. What he craves most is God’s presence, the sureness that God is with him. Nothing else will be enough.
That’s what my heart craves too – the sureness that God is with me. The certainty that comes with the intimacy of a close relationship. I’m not always the best listener. God often whispers and I have my ears busy expecting Him to shout. I am so grateful that my God is patient. He keeps calling out to me. He whispers constantly. He doesn’t give up if I miss it the first time. He pursues me, desiring to draw me close to His side. He keeps singing over me, reminding me that while I may think that He is far from me, He is closer than the air I breathe. I choose to cling to the God who is close, the One who will never let me go.