We used to believe in You, God. We used to attend church and believe that how we lived our lives mattered to You and to our neighbor. We attended Sunday School, we sent our kids to Youth Groups, and we made our decisions with morality in mind. We prayed a lot. We committed much time to seeking You and lifting our friends and relatives to You in prayer.
Then we got tired.
I guess life got in the way. Big things were happening…divorce, debt, children trouble, disease, and all of them required more energy than we felt we had to give, so our prayers became one sentence toss-ups, or breaths of desperation. We didn’t seek until we found, or knock until the door was opened anymore.
Our prayers became more like thoughts for you to consider, since we no longer really believed you would answer all of our prayers…after all, you did ignore some big ones.
Our loved ones died of cancer, our bank accounts emptied, and we lost our jobs. Our children didn’t return our love, but instead became addicts and lost their minds in the process. These were the things we prayed would never happen, yet they did. You let us down.
We stopped valuing prayer and instead worked on living. Surviving became the new way to live.
We began to wonder if Darwin was right in his evaluation of life and what it consists of–survival. We looked to science to answer our questions about meaning and morality, and since there were none in science, we figured it was up to us to make up our own.
Thankfully we had a base knowledge of morality due to our religious influences, but since we could not fully embrace the idea of a God interested in our every day affairs, we were comfortable discarding a few moral ideals we used to cling to in order to make room for flexibility, change, reason, and evolution.
We didn’t forget your Name, we just began to use it as a curse word. We didn’t mean anything by it really, although we were nervous at first moving your Name to such common and derogatory verbiage. When lightning didn’t strike, however, we were pretty confident that we would be okay continuing since many of our new-found friends had been misusing your name for years and they were still thriving.
Our weariness didn’t go away. That gnawing that there has got to be more to life than what we are living continued. So we looked for ways to numb that feeling.
Our first numbing agent of choice was pleasure. We indulged ourselves in every imaginable way. After all, we deserved it. Our bank accounts couldn’t keep up with our spending. Our ventures into alcohol, sex, drugs, cutting, and food had landed us in some addictions that we couldn’t control. There was a sense that we were spiraling, but even that felt a little bit fun and dangerous, so we continued.
So why did we still feel a deep sense of shame and guilt?
When our children looked at us with empty, pain-filled eyes, we sensed that we were part of the reason they were hopeless. When we broke that 100th promise to the ones we loved, we secretly knew that we are not what we should be, nor what we used to be.
Part of the angst we felt lies in the fact that we know you are real. We have experienced You. We see You in everything created, and feel You in some of the most precious moments of life. We know You are there. We sense Your desire to break in on our lives if we would just let You back in.
We are afraid that maybe You can’t really care about us the way we need You too. We are afraid that our needs now are so great, and our heart so strayed that we won’t be able to find our way back to you. We feel beyond repair.
Things can never be like they were before.
But here again is our trouble, isn’t it? We are still making the rules, writing our own scripts, playing the lead role, and wearing ourselves out in the process. What do you say about us?
What about our unanswered prayers? What about the times we felt like You left us out to dry? What do we do with our anger and disappointment in You?
We have to face You don’t we? We have to come full circle and finally be honest about ourselves. We don’t have the answers. We don’t have the antidotes. We are adrift at sea without power and without navigation.
How do we approach You, God? What will we say or do that would bring you back to us, and us back to You?
Your invitation hasn’t changed even though we have.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
18“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Did we blame you for the loss of relationship when in fact it was our anger and disillusionment that caused us to leave home? Like the Prodigal Son, we must come home. We must repent of our rebellion.
But what about Your sin against us God? You didn’t come when we called. You didn’t answer our prayers. You let us hurt, and lose, and struggle. Weren’t you supposed to stop all of that from happening to us? What if it happens again?
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
God, we left you…God, we need you…
We repent… God forgive us.