Before I published last Friday’s post, I e-mailed Steve Imbach for permission to share his story about the sleepless night. In response he said, “If it were now I would probably ask, ‘God, how are you loving me in this?’”
When life is difficult, we often ask “God, where are you?” (assuming he is absent) or “What am I doing wrong?” (assuming God is punishing us). But when we are “steeped in God-reality” and know how good, compassionate, and attentive God is, we can ask, “God, how are you loving me in this?”
This summer I had a conversation with someone and I could tell by their body language that they were hurt or angry with me. That caused me to have a sleepless night.
I told myself to stop being so sensitive and not to worry about it. I tried distracting myself until the nagging feelings went away.
When that didn’t work, I tried to fix the situation that caused the uncomfortable feelings in the first place. I asked God, “What did I do wrong?”
For days I was convinced that the only thing Jesus wanted to tell me was that I should think before I speak and be more considerate. But Jesus wasn’t interested in giving me a report card.
During a silent retreat, he whispered, “Psst. Ask me how I am loving you in this.”
My Abba reminded me of the cell phone, the cleft in the rock, and the story of how he calmed the storm and how they spoke of his maternal and secure love for me. Then, he asked me a question, “What are you afraid of?”
In the silence I thought about his question and how badly I felt about that disturbing conversation. Suddenly I knew what I was afraid of and why.
When I was a child I could be picked on for any number of things. I always wanted to know what I was doing wrong, so I didn’t do it again. If I could do things right, then I would be safe and people would stop picking on me.
In God’s great calm I saw it as plain as day: I am afraid of doing things wrong. I have to get things right to be safe.
Jesus wanted me to notice all this, so I could envision another way to live. He was inviting me into a new reality, where I don’t have to get things right to be safe.
“I’ll be your safe place, your rock and fortress.” Jesus keeps saying, “and every time you see the scratches on your cell phone, I’ll remind you of that.”
God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I need comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life.
–Psalm 62:1,2 (The Message)