I always read stories (true stories) of crazy miracles happening in people’s lives and God breaking in at just the right time. Just when they thought all was lost, a miracle happens and it is so evident because of the drastic contrast between the before and after of the miracle. I read these stories, and hear others, and watch God moving in people’s lives, and I am awestruck. The only explanation for such things is God. No one can force something that uncannily amazing to occur in their life.
But something in me when hearing these stories feels very disheartened and, I’ll be honest: disappointed. Why? Because I have never seen God move in that way in my life. I don’t have any crazy stories of miraculous moments where God just shocked everyone by what He did in my life. Everything so far has been a long, slow process where over time I eventually come to the realization that God was moving all along behind the scenes. Which, I understand, is much of what life is. But there are questions.
Why can’t God move in big ways in my life? Why don’t I get any stories to tell? Why haven’t I seen miracles in my life? I’m not asking for my life to become one big symphony of sonic-booms and craziness. But it would be nice to have a few of those every now and then.
What do I do when I ask, and the answer is “No”? What do I do when my heart waits expectantly for the Lord to answer me in the way I hope, fully trusting Him to be kind and gracious to me, and the answer I get is “No”? Taking it a step further, what do I do when the people around me are constantly telling their stories of the “Yes” they received? When their circumstances are continually showcasing that Yes?
What happens then? Where do I take all of my frustration, my disappointment, my heartbrokenness, my anger? Because eventually, it stops making me sad, and starts making me angry. I don’t understand any of it.
The only thing I know to do is to love Jesus in the midst of all of my negative emotions (which are real, they are not to be down-played) and continually give Him my heart even in the midst of my tears. He still wants my heart, even when my heart hurts. He will take it all, all the time.
So today I hear thunder outside and my heart is wrestling with the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations AGAIN. After years of wrestling with the same unanswered question and receiving only silence. After years of waiting, hoping for the answer I desire, yet hearing nothing. And here I am 4 years later, still in the same place I was 4 years ago, and God has not broken in, He hasn’t changed my circumstances, He hasn’t even told me anything about them. He just tarries. Sometimes my attitude has been “You expect me to STILL hang on after all of this?!”
Then, quietly in the caverns of my heart I hear the faint answer that I know to be true: “I’m not asking you to hang on, I’m asking you to love me.”
What is God after in the times we pray and receive no answer? What is He after in the times we ache with desire yet see no fulfillment? What is God wanting from us? Our love. He’s after our love. The setting for the test of our love for Him is the season of fire, delayed answers, unfulfilled expectations, longing with no relief. That season will prove whether our love is genuine, or whether we are in a relationship with Him for how He makes us feel or blesses us.
If our love can stand through fire and still come out gold, it’s real. That is what God is after.
So when I keep asking and keep seeing everyone else around me receiving, I WILL give Him my love. I will love Him. No matter how many more times I have to say the same thing in the same circumstance with the same attitudes. I will keep saying it. And I will find, over time, that my attitude HAS indeed changed, and I am no longer wishing away my circumstances or current surroundings, but I am content to love Him because He’s worthy of my love in every season.
This is how the first commandment is walked out. He looks at each heart who said yes to Him, and says: “You will love me with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” He doesn’t mention anything about our life circumstances. He doesn’t say “You will love me with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, but only if all of your prayers have been answered, and only if you understand what is happening in your life, and only if I fulfill all your desires.” He simply says, “LOVE ME.” Because He is worthy to be loved, with everything.