Since December, my time in solitude before God has been squeezed out. My normally quiet house (during the day) was filled with the noise of a rambunctious 8-year-old on Christmas break. We traveled to Oklahoma. When we got back, we had a major leak in the sunroom—my place to sit quietly before God. Furniture was shoved to the sides to avoid the water. Our couch was literally on its side. Buckets were everywhere. Not exactly a place where you can forget life’s demands to hear from the Holy One.
I’ve known for a while that my relationship with God has been off-center. Wonkie. Out of rhythm. So what did I do? Nothing. For several weeks, I’m afraid to say, I avoided God as much as possible. I know. Counterintuitive. And impossible. Don’t judge.
I finally asked the question, Why are you running? Why are you avoiding the silence?
The answer was swift: I don’t want to be still because I know I have disappointed God.
I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. More than once. If you were honest, really honest, you’d admit that you’ve felt that way before. More than once. You’ve avoided the Silence because you were sure that God would be unhappy with you, like a disapproving parent who has caught his child in a lie.
Where does that come from? Part of it (for me) is my people-pleasing tendencies. Part of it is the pressure that because I’m a church leader, I’m supposed to have it all together. (HA!)
At the heart of the matter, though, is this faulty idea that my actions (or inaction) toward God will dictate His response to me. Here’s how it plays out: If I have my quiet time, God is happy. If I lose my temper with my husband, I’ve lost God’s favor. If I remember to pray before a meal, God listens in. If I forget, God leans back a bit. Talking about Jesus? Bonus points. Giving into fear? No dessert for you.
In churchy terms? A works-based faith.
Even after 20+ years as a believer, I still forget sometimes that God’s love toward me is not influenced by my behavior, good or bad. The cross has proven that. He is not a punitive God. Grace has proven that.
I know what you’re thinking because I’ve made the same objections: But what about those verses on discipline? What about the idea that God hates sin? What about that stuff about being held accountable for our behavior?
All of it is true.
But none of it was intended to drive our relationship with God.
Fear is not God’s motivator. Love is.
God is more concerned about in my living in fear of disappointing Him than in my wandering. Fear paralyzes. I can’t fully and freely love Him and be afraid of disappointing Him at the same time. Wandering still suggests a returning home.
What disappoints God more than my sin is my running from Him.
So I think I’ll turn back toward Home.