I stood with my toes hanging over the edge of the Blyde River Canyon in South Africa, experiencing the thrill of a seven-hundred-foot drop.
Michael encircled my waist with his arm and whispered “Look up.” I wasn’t supposed to look down at my trembling knees. He wanted me to look up to experience the vista, appropriately named God’s Window. The expanse greeted us with the breathtaking landscape of Krueger National Park and a glimpse of the Mozambique border.
It was a spectacular moment, but I felt as if I was missing something. I needed to look down. And then I found it. A small green sign at shin level simply stated, Keep God’s Window Clean.
A pristine view of God—is that even possible? What muddies my vision of the unseen?
Unfortunately, I can have grimy fingers that smear God’s window, obscuring my vision, creating a view of Him that is more congruent with the human than the divine. Our Father is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. His greatest desire is for a relationship with His children. And yet, we feel the need to question Him.
Fortunately, God never deserts the ones He loves. Even as I share my list of three questions, He waits for me on the other side with open arms of forgiveness, compassion, and unchanging love.
Getting Real with God Means It’s Okay To Ask…
I ask Him why. Hard things happen. How many times have I quietly whispered, “How can a good God let these things happen?” Then I usually take it to the next level. “Shouldn’t my faith protect me from the unexpected?” In a moment of crisis, it seems as if I put myself in solitary confinement, where the world revolves around me, and no one else seems to exist. I forget about the many believers who have gone before me, who have experienced their share of challenging circumstances, grief, and unexpected twists and turns—They asked God why, too.
David asked, “Oh, Lord, why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1
Habbakuk asked, “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Habbakuk 1:3
Job asked, “Why have you made me your target?” Job 7:20
In each case, God gave them the answer that He was in command of the situation, as He understood things they couldn’t.
He gives me my answers, too. Maybe I need to find a better question in order to experience a panorama, instead of a quick glimpse. My view changes when I replace my why with what is my lesson in this?
For example, when Michael had his heart attack, my why was replaced with God, what do you want me to learn? He answered I want you to change your priorities.
I ask Him to hurry. Time deadlines are a way for me to give God a large portion of my need for control as I hold on to one tiny piece of my false security blanket. If I have a deadline, a target, something to hold on to, I can make it. It feels like swimming in the deep end of the big kid’s pool, knowing I can grab the edge within three arm strokes. Finishing strong is easier than treading the waters of how much longer. But deadlines rarely cultivate deeper trust and reliance. I like working in terms of minutes, days, and weeks. God, who is outside of time, seems to work on a much slower timetable.
David waited to become king.
Elijah waited for rain.
Job waited for suffering to end.
In each case, God answered by using an expanded period to develop their character and mature their faith.
As my time drew to a close with my mom in her hospice room, I felt the tension between waiting and preparation for the season ahead.
My question of when was eventually replaced with how do you want me to wait? God answered I want you to remain in trust and hopeful expectation.
I ask Him what’s next. I worry. Even though I know in my heart that I can’t change an outcome, I get stressed. Ask my family. In most circumstances, I have a backup plan in case my backup plan fails. I fear the future. I live in fear that at any moment, something may happen that will shatter the life that I know, leaving me with a pile of broken glass. I doubt my ability to piece together the mosaic of the life I used to know. I want an existence that is under my control. And yet, God exerts His will, not mine.
Eve controlled her husband’s diet.
Sarah convinced Abram to have a baby with her maidservant, Hagar.
Martha controlled the details of the dinner party with Jesus.
In each case, God said, “I’ve got this.” Trust your Master and Maker, not yourself.
God reveals an utterly unobscured view of Himself when I surrender my future to Him. My destiny was secured on the cross. Eternity awaits as I no longer need to question what’s next—I simply fall to my knees and ask, Jesus – even for me? And God answers, “Even for you.”
If you could reach God on the phone, what would be your first question?
Where do you feel you have your most pristine view of God?
Prayer: Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Don’t toss me aside, banished forever from your presence. Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Amen (Psalm 51:10-12 TLB)