Dr. R.B. McFee
11For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29: 11 – 15
Have you ever wanted an answer from the Almighty, and you wanted it yesterday? Lately I’ve needed clarity on a number of issues that for too long I have avoided bringing to God in full on seeking. Have you ever avoided the big discussion with God? Perhaps you, too have been there, done that?
Add to that, but on a far more simple level, I had hit a road block with writing. I had jotted down in my journal lots of article ideas, but tonight couldn’t read them (what other career but physician could I get with this handwriting, I mean seriously?). Plus I tend to write on inspiration – something just lights me up, and the writing flows. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling it over the last few days. OK last several days.
Frustrated that my writing not only wasn’t flowing like a river, in fact it barely qualified as a dripping faucet, I took it to prayer.
But God seemed silent.
Have you ever had that happen? Perhaps you are right now in the midst of such a moment, or moments?
The more I thought about things, the more I wondered did God hear me, or was He in fact speaking volumes by seemingly not saying anything. What was up with not sharing an insight or inspiration as God has so often done in the past?
Then two thoughts popped into my mind.
The first – and something I have often shared with friends and mentees – “God is not a light switch.” He isn’t someone to be conjured on demand. He isn’t the oracle at Delphi that dolls out advice on demand.
Yet too often we take God for granted, and treat Him as if He is a light switch, at our beck and call. He isn’t a smart phone application where we ask a question, and the answer instantly materializes. God isn’t someone we run to only when we need His advice, or help, and then after spend less and less time as things go ok. “God is not a light switch.” He deserves better from us.
To be sure when unexpected storms of life hit us out of the blue, we don’t have time for any other prayer except an instant one to our ‘just in time Savior.’ But those are, or ought to be the exceptions to our lifetime of respectful, regular, relationship-building treatment of our God.
And second - was the quiet response a gentle nudge that I was being less intentional lately about my time with God?
I didn’t think so in the broad sense. My thoughts and conversations seemed to still be there with Him. On drives or during activities I thought I was being in touch. But in the painful honesty of silence I realized that is precisely what I was doing – spending less time with God than I should have. I found myself still praying and having devotion time, but less God is my best Friend time than I wanted to, or should have.
Does that sound at all like you, too?
It is subtle. At first it is just a few minutes less with the Lord than the day before, and then even a few less the next day, and before you know it, you run the risk of being a drive by Christian.
Thankfully I had only fallen into this distancing for a few days, and, well, I think it is ‘lesson learned.’ And gratefully!
There are different causes for spending less ‘real time’ with God. Each one of us may in fact have several. But that’s precisely when we need to spend more time with God, and discuss it.
Soon I was thinking about Jeremiah 29, especially verses 12 and 13….
12Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.
Increasingly I thought about my relationship with God, the time I invested in it and what He promises in terms of helping His people. He is faithful, trustworthy, and looking forward to being with us. Through His silence, God showed indeed He was listening to me.
The reality God not only isn’t a light switch that we flip when we need glowing inspiration, He isn’t an ATM or genie dolling out funds or favors, and He isn’t the magic 8 ball, where if we merely give a shake or a nudge, we get some sort of answer – limited, sketchy and generally useless except for entertainment value at parties. No! God is much, much more. And His advice is worth listening to.
God does use lots of ways to talk to us, to bring us closer, and to inspire us. He loves His children, and will not abandon, forsake, or ignore us. He may school us, which is fair enough. Sometimes it is in the sound of silence, allowing us to search our behaviors, and arrive at the truth. Then there are times when He uses scripture, or the counsel of others to help answer our questions, or to give us a wakeup call.
But most importantly, it is in the self reflection of our time with the Lord, and our efforts at growing that most important of all relationships, our relationship with God, that we find our answers. It starts with prayer, and the investment of time.
“Seek Me with all your heart….” That is both a powerful invitation, and instruction. It reminds us that much is expected if we are to be in relationship with God. That verse reminds us that God holds nothing back; but can He expect the same from us? Do we approach the Throne of God offering all of us, all of our heart to Him? Are we all in? We know God is; how could it be otherwise, when He gave us Jesus, and then His Spirit?
Nothing worth having is without effort. Relationship, skills development, whatever goal you set, or person you value requires effort.
If God truly is our best Friend, then we should put in the effort to show it. That starts with prayer, and reading the love notes He has provided for us – His Word in Scripture.
Moreover, we should sincerely want to spend a lot of time with Him – in our thoughts throughout the day, in reading the Bible, and in prayer. That can be protected time, as well as communally.
Each form of contact with God provides greater opportunity for our spiritual development, and greater clarity as to our journey in faith, what our gifts are, and how to use them for His purposes, and the blessings of others.
Except in emergencies, “God isn’t a light switch.”
Speaking of which, we often take having light for granted. Yet if you have ever been without electricity for a protracted period of time – an extended wilderness experience, or living through the aftermath of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina, you get a renewed sense of appreciation for the ability to flip a switch and the light, or heat, or air conditioning go on.
Do we take the Light and Love of God for granted, too?
The Light God supplies us is far more powerful, and important than mere electric current juicing up a light bulb. And if we attune ourselves to God, we will be powered up by far more than we could ever possibly expect, and in ways that lead to blessings we couldn’t even imagine.
But it takes more than a drive by encounter, the flip of a switch.
My parents often counseled me with the immortal words of Dr. Samuel Johnson (paraphrased from Olde English) that ‘friendships should be kept in constant repair.’ If that advice holds true between mortal friends, how much more should this be when applied to our Lord?
To be sure, God is busy, and would often like us to be succinct, quick at it. But that is not to say he wants the Cliff Notes version of us. He wants our all. He wants us to share our lives. Not that He doesn’t see what is happening, or know what is coming. Most parents know what we’ve done long before we tell them – they just want our company while we regale them. Like earthly parents, God wants to interact and spend some time with us.
Put this way, God as our Father wants quality time with His children.
Just as we shouldn’t take for granted our blessings, including modern conveniences, we shouldn’t just assume because God promised to be with and in us forever, that we can take Him for granted either.
We should never forget the price that was paid so that we can develop a personal relationship with our God, our Creator….
“For Christ also suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God….”
1 Peter 3:18
Sadly when something is readily enjoyed, it can be easily taken for granted. In this case, God is readily enjoyed, but was purchased at great price. Our access to God was paid for in blood, Jesus’ blood.
Perhaps that is why the phrase “God is not a light switch” popped into my head. God is not there just for our convenience. He is not merely a sounding board. And while He is our ‘just in time Savior,’ He is much, much more than that. He is our Creator, Father, Teacher, Guide, Protector, Inspiration, the first One to love us, and if our relationship matters, our Best Friend.
As such, we should approach God regularly, with great anticipation, appreciation and respect for the significance of His Presence in our life. And most of all, we should acknowledge through our companionship, reverence, friendship, and time the importance of God, and our relationship with Him.
Speaking of which, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for some ‘Best Friend time.’ God and I have some things to talk about. So I will leave you with this verse from John….
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us”
1 John 4: 10
….in full recognition that God will always love us more than we can love Him. But He does invite us to try….
“….find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”