Tap tap tug tug

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It’s happening again. It’s this dance that is both boring and dizzying. And embarrassing, humiliating, humbling. I am feeling this tap tap on my shoulder, this tug tug on my heart.

It’s God. Or perhaps it is just my desire for God.

There are certain things that will trigger it, and oddly enough they are generally to do with the Bible. I have a friend on social media, an old friend of my son’s actually, who posts photos of her husband with a Bible on the table in front of him, a pen in his hand, a notebook to the side. Yesterday I went to breakfast with my family, and there was a young man in the restaurant with the same, Bible open on the table, well used and underlined, a pen and a notebook. I couldn’t help myself. I kept turning to look at him. There is simply a very visceral reaction that occurs when I see these things, a deep, deep longing, a desire.

Sarah Bessey writes:

“I open my Bible, just like my father did every morning of his life. I know that this very morning, he was also in what he still calls ‘the Word.’ And I am my father’s daughter. I am in the Word, just not quite in the same way anymore. I spend these moments reading Isaiah and I pray. I write and I refill my cup, I bow my head over these sacred words that i love all the better for the wrestling to release them from the prison I built for them…. I cling more to the Bible now than I used to; I lean more heavily on the stories and promises, on the visions and the hope. I am challenged and changed in ways I never was when I took every word literally — now that I take them so seriously. Now the Bible places a demand on both my mind and my heart; now I finish with my hands open and prayer in my throat, a fire in my bones and worship rising up, and the ferocious appetite to be transformed, even more, into the likeness of Jesus, into the heart God has for humanity.”

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah what are you saying? How did you do this? How do you divorce the oft times viciousness of the ancient tribal understanding of God from the reality? Where do you draw the line? What is God and what isn’t?

And if it is not all true, why oh why would we spend so much time and energy on it? If there are cracks in the foundation, how can you build on it?

I am still angry. I feel kind of like a wife who is continually lured back into a relationship with a husband who is just slightly abusive. What is it? Why is it? I have been down this path before. I have said, no, no, no, I don’t want to go. Yet I have been slowly drawn back. Each time, though, there has been that little bit of extra distance. I have never forgotten the betrayal, so that when I see the signs again I may choose to not give attention to them, but I can’t just ignore them. They are big, black, glaring spots on my field of vision.

I don’t see the point really. It’s just that this desire keeps stirring in my heart, and desire is beyond reason.

3 thoughts on “Tap tap tug tug

  1. Sharon, these desires and longings you have for God are no coincidence. That is God calling you back to Him, saying “look, some questions you have wont ever be answered in this lifetime, but please just trust me, and I will take care of you.” The reasons these longings and desires for God are so intense is because He loves you so very dearly and desperately wants you to believe in Him. Whenever you backslide, it upsets God very, very deeply. But He is not angry with you, far from it. He wants you back. He wants you to trust Him. Yes, it’s true many of the questions you have won’t ever be answered. I understand that if you could just have those answers, (about why all that violence is in the Bible, etc, ) then believing in God would be so much easier. But that’s just the point. If God just revealed himself to everyone, saying look guys, I’m real, our faith in him would mean absolutely nothing. That’s what faith is; the hope in things unseen. With you, Sharon, I’m pretty sure you do KNOW God exists. Why were you so upset when your son left the church? If God isn’t real, then wouldn’t you be happy your son is no longer wasting his time with some fake nonsense? No, you felt absolutely devastated. And why do you seem almost envious of others that have such great faith in God? Why would it matter if God is not real? So yes, Sharon, I think it’s pretty clear you KNOW there is a God. The question you now have is, is he truly a loving God? What is UP with all that violence in the Old Testament anyway? I really can’t answer that for sure, and I don’t think anyone could really explain it in a way that would be satisfying to you. My belief is that in every person’s life God places little “roadblocks” to test our faith. Those are the “big, black, glaring spots” you described. This violence in the Old Testament seems to be what is keeping you from fully embracing you love for God. but here again lies the issue of faith, faith in God’s goodness. To be perfectly honest, I also struggle often with my own faith and the violence in the Old Testament is a big part of that. That’s one of the “roadblocks” we share. But if God really is a ruthless, violent, tyrannical monster….. Why does he care so much about you? Why does he keep calling you back? The person you accuse God of being would just say, “oh, forget about that Sharon, she’s a lost cause.” But no, you keep getting those desires, those longings, and make no mistake, those are God given. Now, if I recall correctly another issue you had was that there are people in third world countries who have never heard about Christianity, so they are presumably doomed to hell. But are they? Do we really know that? Isnt it possible that God would give them the same kind of desires you also have, the desire to know Him? I apologize if I get details wrong but I remember in another blog on your Dear Michaela website you mentioned that I believe your father was a lifelong atheist, to his dying day,but you somehow got the feeling that he went to heaven. If God can reveal himself to someone who rejected him all his life,couldn’t He also do Just that to those who have never heard of him? I truly believe He can. These revelations show God’s character: that he truly cares for all people and above all wants them to be saved. I apologize if it seems like I’m going around in circles here. I just felt compelled to reach out to you and try to help. I’m sorry if none of it does. If you have any more questions I will try and answer as best I can, but like I said I believe some things we will never know (and aren’t meant to know) until we actually meet God. I will continue to pray not only for you but your entire family to see God’s goodness and glory.

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    • Wow. Thank you!

      Actually, let me add to that response. First, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for having listened to me, and having heard me, and over a rather long period of time. It is one of the great frustrations of my life that I rather carefully write words and people respond as though I hadn’t said anything or as though I’d said something completely different. You have no idea how much it means these days to feel someone has heard me.

      And thank you for your insight. You hit on several key truths. 🙂

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      • Dear Sharon and J,

        I just wanted to say that my spirit actually leapt when I read this blog post, Sharon, and when I read J’s wonderful and loving response and your response to it, too. I have been praying for your so often, Sharon, and I just want to echo what J already shared and say that I too believe God just cares and loves you SO deeply. He is not a tyrannical God. His love for YOU is deep and wide and draws you back in regardless of what questions have led you to distrust Him and distance yourself. He is showing you who He is. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to go after the one who got lost. (Luke 15.) That is WHO HE IS. He is patient, “not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Psalm 145 says that “the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to ALL; He has compassion on ALL He has made.” You, beautiful Sharon, have experienced this tap tap on your shoulder and this tug tug on your heart. I have experienced the very same!!! I have distanced myself from Jesus at times. Other times I have flat out disobeyed Him, hardened my heart to Him, and grieved His heart. But NEVER has He let me go, even when I wanted Him to leave me alone. I felt that tap tap, that tug tug, and ultimately have relented and felt His love wash over me again, His grace and acceptance and mercy wash over me again. And there is NOTHING LIKE THE WAVES of His love and mercy. Nothing. As you probably well know. And the way He loves you and me and J is the way He loves your son and the way He loves Michaela and the way He loves every single one of us. For God SO LOVED the WORLD that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have life everlasting. (John 3:16) And Romans 1 tells us how He makes Himself known even to those who haven’t heard. I could tell you a story from just last week of my friend’s dad who was 81 and had spent his entire life resisting Jesus, and then, in just the last few hours of his life (I went to his memorial service today), relented and let the love of Jesus wash over him. Jesus did not give up on him all those years. He kept at it. He went after the one lost sheep. I am not saying that I’m a universalist and believe that everyone will be saved, but I am most definitely saying that I believe God gives each of us every last possible opportunity. That the longing we have for Him is only because He’s already longing for us. As 1 John says, we love because He FIRST loved us.

        Oh my goodness. I’m on a roll here. It is late and I hope this made sense and wasn’t just repetitive rambling in your ears. Forgive my verbosity! I just want you to know that I love you, sister, even though I’ve never met you. I love you and have prayed for you and will continue to and far more importantly, your Father in heaven loves you and longs for you and “longs to be gracious to you.” (Is. 30:18) You are DEAR to Him. Precious to Him. He knows every question in your sweet mind. I cannot answer why He does not answer every one of your questions or every one of mine. Oh, how I’ve wanted Him to at times. Begged Him to. And honestly, I’ve found that in time He has actually answered many of mine (not in the timeframe I wanted, but usually after I let go on an issue, I’ll one day find that He’s given me some insight and understanding on it). But others He hasn’t and may never. But I’m learning to trust His heart. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. He has no shadow of turning. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it…. He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn — not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (pieces of John chapter 1.)

        So much love and respect as you continue your journey, Sharon. You have MANY of us who are reading, listening, and sending you love. Hugs from Lauren in Seattle.

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