I’ve been wanting to talk about God lately, but I haven’t been sure what to say. It’s like I’m relearning everything, starting at the very beginning, and what do you say about that? Hey guys, read all about how I know nothing?
Thing is, knowing nothing is pretty incredible from where I’m standing. I’m starting over when it comes to me and God, but I don’t feel alone or afraid. I don’t have any of the answers, can’t seem to know with surety what is right and what is wrong, but I don’t feel out of touch. I’m moving slow, if at all, one foot tentatively in front of the other, but I don’t feel like I’m behind.
God brought me back to where I know nothing, so that he can teach me everything.
The other day I was driving in my car, reaching out to God for the first time in awhile, almost shyly, singing Misty Edwards’ song “Light of Your Face”. It’s a great worship song but, like every other worship song I think is great, my favorite thing about it used to be how much fun it is to sing, and the memories I have of singing it. (Obvious side note: when you’re not singing worship songs for the right reason, it might be time to forget everything you know and start over.)
So the song begins, “Oh Lord bless me and keep me, cause your face to shine on me. Lord be gracious, with the light of your countenance, give me peace.” Good stuff, all of it. Then it shifts to, “For I live only to see your face, so shine on me.” Pause. Singing in my car, I come to those words and I stop singing. Why? Because it’s not true. It is not true of me that I live only to see God’s face. I think back to all of the times, in all of the places, that I’ve ever sung that song. I try to think of every time I might have sung those kinds of words in worship. I can’t think of a single time that I have truly and totally lived only to see God’s face, only to worship him, only to be with him.
I realize that, even months after leaving the traditional church, I’m still playing a part, I’m still saying what I should when I’m supposed to. This isn’t doing God, or me, any favors.
I realize it if it’s not true then I shouldn’t sing it… or say it… or write it. If I am not living solely to see God’s face then I shouldn’t pretend that I am. The revelation continues. I understand that when it is time for me to be in that level of relationship with God it will be because he brought me there, not because I elbowed my way to the front of the room.
The song continues, “Let the light of your face shine down on my heart and let me feel it.” These words are true, I sing them again and again and again. Show me God, in the way I understand, let me feel it. Let me feel it, let me feel it. I realize that, above anything else, this is my prayer. I realize I’m singing out to whatever and whoever God really is, and not what I’ve made of him. Let me feel it God, let me know the real you.
I see a deer in the snowy woods just to the side of the road. It’s a little understanding God and I came to a long time ago. A deer spotting always comes when I’m particularly in need of knowing that God is listening, that I am loved by him. I keep singing and slow down to admire this deer. Another steps out, then another. I drive slowly by them, three deer in the woods, staring at me as I go by. My heart fills, the smile grows. I can feel it.
Two days later. Same song, same search. I’m walking my dog in a snowstorm. Big, fat, heavy flakes of snow are being dumped over the woods and back roads. It’s a gray day and it’s depressing me and so I take to the outdoors in hopes of finding a little solace. I’m singing all alone in the middle of nowhere. “Let the light of your face shine down on me, and let me feel it.” Again and again.
I stop with a sudden realization, looking around as snow meets snow. The light of God’s face. God’s face. I’m looking at it. Here in the middle of the woods, bundled up to keep warm, my dog looking at me curiously as I breathe deeply, filling my lungs with crisp, refreshing air; here I am looking at God’s face. I am walking on, singing in, living with God’s face. He is everywhere, all around me. I can feel it, and it’s amazing.
These two moments are true unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced with God before. They hold a deeper truth for me because they are mine, because I found them in my own searching, because no one told me where to go and what to expect when I got there. These two moments are gifts that God presented to me in response to a very specific, and very genuine, prayer. This is the kind of truth that is sustaining. This is authenticity. I can feel it.