I sit in silence. Externally still, at peace – a poor reflection of my internal world. My head spins, overthinking, riddled with anxiety, full of unanswered questions. Processing this complex life and all the facets of my current circumstances. I find in myself a desire to understand, to wrap my mind around these questions I’m asking and find an answer. I don’t even fully understand the questions I’m asking and it confuses me. I try to be attentive to the space I am in, to the words I am hearing, to the movements of my own heart, to God’s presence. My posture is somber – I take this life seriously and approach God with reverence. But what do I really desire?
I want answers. But that’s only the most obvious desire. As the layers of my heart peel back the truth becomes clear, what I really want is control. I bring my questions and anxieties to God, but only because I want Him to provide me with answers and alleviate my anxiety so that I can return to stasis. I have conveniently learned to tie up my broken efforts toward autonomy with a presentation of holiness: “I’m seeking God, waiting on Him, pursuing wisdom.” But this is not pursuit of God, it is pursuit of some semblance of control of my own life. It is an attempt at alleviating my anxiety and maintaining an independence that keeps me from needing anyone, including God. Here I sit, looking peaceful on the outside, but reeling internally with the weight of this world.
Suddenly, the back door opens and a scream breaks into my complex internal world. I open my eyes to see the children of the congregation returning from Sunday school to rejoin their parents in service, crafts in tow. I watch as they make their way up the main aisle of the small sanctuary, eyes scanning the pews, searching for the familiar faces of their parents. One by one I watch as their faces turn from confused searching to joy. Eyes are met by parent’s welcoming smile and their faces reciprocate as they run to welcoming arms. I watch as the parents embrace their children. Celebrating their “beautiful” art – some sort of crepe paper glued onto a colorful sheet. I can’t quite tell what it is, but it is obvious the children are proud of their work and it is beautiful to watch the parents value their simple creation.
The interruption creates space for me to step outside of my internal world and the words of Jesus come to mind, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3-4, ESV). The contrast is stark. How far have I wandered from the simplicity of childhood? How far has my image of God drifted from the loving Father who embraces me?
My anxieties betray my true fear – if I do not hold my own life together, if I do not understand the ins and outs of my own heart and circumstances, if I do not take control of my life, then who will? Much of my experience has seemed to respond, “no one!” So I continue striving, working hard to grasp at some sort of security in myself. And yet I continue to discover how little security I can generate and how lonely it is to continue going it alone.
This is the point in which I would love to be able to turn the story around. To explain to you how I learned to trust God and surrender my life to Him. How I have become like a child and God has met me like a loving Father. But the reality is that I am still in process. I certainly do not have it figured out and I don’t know that I ever fully will. Perhaps even here is the opportunity for me to entrust myself to my Father.
Perhaps the invitation is something like this: “Beloved son or daughter, even in your broken images of me, even as you struggle to let go of control, even as you try to hold your life together, would you come to me? Would you let my loving gaze light up your face and bring you running to me? Would you allow me to embrace you and celebrate the beauty of your life (even if others cannot quite see it)?”
What would it look like for me to actually recognize my lack of control and bring myself to rest in the arms of the One who holds my life and cares more deeply for me than I could ever comprehend? What would it look like to let go of control? What would it look like to truly know the delight of my Heavenly Father and trust that He has good things for me?
I often find C.S. Lewis has a way of painting a beautiful picture with words. So I leave you with this quote from The Weight of Glory: “The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God… to be a real ingredient in the Divine happiness… to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
So it is. May we know the gentle gaze of our Father as He delights in us. Amen.