Ever feel like screaming:
“God, where ARE you? It’s the eleventh hour, and I’m beyond impatient waiting on you to show up!”
In a crisis situation, that desperate plea sounds pretty reasonable, right? We’re frantic, and we cry out. There’s nothing wrong with that. David did this repeatedly in the Psalms. God isn’t afraid of our honesty. In fact, He welcomes it.
Even so, there are four fundamental misconceptions with these statements, and believe me, I’m guilty of wrong belief myself!
- God is not with us.
- He might not respond, so we have to get His attention again.
- It really is the eleventh hour.
- It’s about us.
As for Number One, can I just say here that Immanuel means “God is with us”? That is Who Jesus is. I could say “end of story” or “enough said” at this point, but that often doesn’t satisfy me, so here’s a bit more.
When we believe in Christ, confess our sin, and accept Him into our lives as Lord, He gives us the Holy Spirit as a deposit and way to know He is with us.
How can we ask where He is when He is Immanuel? It would be like saying His name is a lie, He’s not Who He says that He is, and He doesn’t really live inside us as the Holy Spirit. Once we trust in Him and invite Him into relationship with us, He doesn’t go anywhere.
He never leaves. Never.
Matthew 1:23, ESV, Apostle Matthew relaying the Word of the Lord
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV, Moses speaking
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) September 12, 2015
As for Number Two—God not responding—this one shows our humanness so well. Don’t we feel unheard so much of the time? Don’t we often feel we have to scream and wave our hands to have people listen? I often feel not listened to when someone asks me a direct question, I answer it, and they have no response. That one gets me half out of my mind in frustration.
But God. God doesn’t ignore us. He always responds. We often don’t see it from our limited viewpoint because His response is not always what we were wanting—even demanding—but He definitely replies.
1 John 5:14, ESV, Apostle John speaking
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us (emphasis mine).
Can we look at this verse in its entirety? Can we see what it’s really saying?
It’s saying He hears us. When? If we ask anything according to His will. Do we really want an answer outside His will anyway? God is good. Anything outside that would be unfavorable toward us, yes? I can live with that understanding. I can find peace in it. Can you?
As for it being the eleventh hour. Really? We know this beyond a shadow of a doubt? Are we time lords? I know many who are waiting for:
- That call back from a therapist because their situation feels so dire. Will this be a good match?
- That scan to come back. Will there be shadows? Nodes?
- That answer from a dear one in response to a tough subject. Will they understand? Will they take offense where none was meant?
- That solution on how to proceed with schooling when finances are depleted. Will there be a new direction to go in? Will this education be wasted?
- That career lead to know where they will land for a while. Will the family have to move? Will it be worth it?
Sometimes we feel we are down to the wire. We think we are waiting for God to ride in on a shiny white horse and wave a magic wand over our situation. We think we need rescue.
Can I tell you from personal experience and a long history of trying to do it my way instead of following His lead that:
Rescue already happened on the cross.
That’s right. Your knight in shining armor has already come. Your answer is already accomplished.
John 19:30, ESV, Apostle John speaking
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
You are merely waiting for Him to reveal it to you, and that’s where He refines us.
And as for Number Four: It never was about us. It’s now about Christ who lives in me.
Galatians 2:19-20, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
This summer hit a low point in my life. Dad started chemotherapy for his sixth cancer in the past 34 years. I’m still waiting for some things to settle out with the ongoing care of my special needs son. The shrapnel from our past year of nonstop advocacy for one child crashed into the other two. Some days it felt like keeping my head above water was all I could do. Valley walking isn’t fun. We all know this.
If you already trust Christ, these promises are yours in the valley.
If you don’t, they are absolutely your inheritance as soon as you acknowledge to Him that you are a sinner (as we all are), that you need Him in your life, that you believe in what He did on the cross for you, and that He died and rose again for you.
It’s a phenomenal gift. If you receive it, you can walk in amazing relationship and peace that Immanuel is absolutely and forever God with you. He always hears you as His beloved child. Your situation is never too late in God’s time. And as much as He loves you, it isn’t about you. It’s about His glory revealing itself by loving a world through you.
That valley suddenly has a purpose to it and a way through it that, while not always pleasant, arrives at its mountaintop with God’s grace, strength, peace, love, and joy given along the way. It means hope in your life even when, like me, you are still waiting out the answers and looking for the higher ground on the horizon.
Won’t you take my hand?
Better yet, take His.
Immanuel, God with you. Always.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) September 12, 2015
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Breakthru Link-Up, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Sunday Thoughts Link-Up, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, Faith ‘N Friends, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).