There’s a popular Christian song written back in the 80s that says, “Our God is an awesome God…” However, if someone were writing a song about my relationship with God, it would look more like this…
Our God is an “awkward” God
He speaks to us at inconvenient times, in ways too weird to ever expect, with timing too frustratingly slow to endure
He teaches us through the off-kilter, unbalanced experiences of life
When we seek Him, He is often silent. But then He hides around the corners of our day, ready to spring out and startle us with the surprise of His presence in the midst of the mundane
He incites, provokes, enrages, and yes, often thrills
But He is God, and this is His way and His world. Who are we to tell Him to do it any differently?
Yeah, I hear what you’re saying, “It’s not God who’s awkward, but us”. You’re right. And yet “getting a handle on Him” is near impossible. But I believe that’s the way He has planned it.
Could anyone so creative and brilliant as God be satisfied with how predictable we wish Him to be? It makes me so sad how some people relate to God. I’ve watched many of my friends go through their little “God routines” that some teacher has given them, promising it’s the “key to the victorious Christian life”:
“Name it and claim it, and your faith will cause it to happen”
“Ask in this 5-part formula, and you’ll get what you prayed for”
To me, that is more superstition than spirituality. More magic than miraculous.
SAME SONG, SECOND VERSE
In the first chapters of Joshua, the Children of Israel are preparing to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land (insert favorite African-American Spiritual here). They are in much the same circumstance as Moses at the Red Sea – they need to get a lot of people safely across a body of water.
However, God doesn’t tell Joshua to poke his staff in the water like Moses did. Nope, the priests would have to take the Ark of The Covenant (see “Raiders of the Lost Ark” for Hollywood treatment of religious artifacts) and march out INTO THE WATER!
So now you’ve got a bunch of guys in priestly vestments wobbling out into muddy, marshy waters, carrying a huge gold-covered-and –inlaid box with Moses’ “Ten Commandments” on stone tablets, which are bumping around inside. Not until they walked out into the Jordan did the water finally part!
God rarely uses the same methods in dealing with us, because He wants us to trust Him, not the method. If He gave you some formula to follow, you’d trust the formula. But what God wants is for you to trust Him personally, in whatever awkward way He chooses. That way, it’s your faith in your RELATIONSHIP with Him that grows stronger, not in a method.
I saw God work in this same awkward way with my own church.
Our church is still pretty new, so we’ve always met in a rented facility. We found out last year our landlord was losing the building to foreclosure. But I wasn’t worried, because God gave us our first location on the very first day we began searching! So now all I needs was for God to drop another building in our laps. No biggy, right?
Well, it wasn’t as easy this time. Two months of searching and thinking of how we could adapt to several different options, none of them perfect for us. Worst of all, on our last week in the old building, a venue that I knew was “The One” fell right through our fingers.
Finally, at the very last minute, the perfect location did come through! It was so much better than the other ones I was trying to make happen, and had much of the equipment already installed that we would have had to drag into the other locations each week. That’s when God reminded me of Joshua, the mud, and the method that didn’t work the second time.
I realized that with each new experience, God doesn’t make things easier – He sometimes makes it even messier. That’s so our faith will increase each time, much like a weight lifter who adds extra weight the stronger he gets. But often, it is an uncomfortable, painful process.
Yep, following God is truly an awkward ride! So my hope for you is that you’ll stop looking for easy formulas or shortcuts. Also, stop worrying about how messy your life is right now. He’s an expert at working in a mess.
Embrace your awkward, unpredictable life today, and know that God works best in the midst of a mess!