Needing Fuel and Flame // When I Don't Want God
It's really hard to start things from scratch. Like this blog post. I just sit here and stare out the window and wait for words to bubble up, evidence of things swimming around deep inside. I cast around in different directions but either the waters are clear or else the kids running circles around me are spooking the fish.
But really that's the whole thing, the whole idea. It's hard to birth something good out of nothing. Every fire needs that first spark but how does one spark? Can't we only be sparked?
When I need God the most, I feel like I can't really get at him. When I'm weary and grouchy and fixated on myself, I find it very hard to lift my eyes and be holy. I don't want to surrender the things that I know aren't worthy in the long run but they're oh-so satisfying now. The things of the world feel good and normal; the things of God seem boring and self-righteous. If I have a flame inside, it's buried under laundry and noise and digging it out is the last thing I feel like doing.
So page one of my then-empty notebook has Psalm 43 on it,
"Send out your light and your truth, let them lead me, let them bring me to your holy hill and dwelling place. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre O God, my God."
I liked it because it felt so shameless. Like, okay...I want to go to that holy hill, I really do. I remember in the past I have truly loved it there. But it seems far away and hard, so basically I'm just standing here and asking for a ride. I want to praise God with exceeding joy, but my soul feels yucky, a little downcast and tumultuous, so I'll just wait and hope that he sends truth that will spark my heart, and that it'll carry me along in the right direction.
I've been here a lot in the past few years, where I feel almost brazen before God with a prayer like that. It's both audacious to think that he, GOD, would respond to my challenge, and yet humble to know I need him that bad.
And the kicker: not once has he failed to answer this prayer.
The first little spark was a free online Enneagram personality test (taken casually and skeptically), followed by a shocking and devastatingly beautiful process of self-inspection, an obsession with learning and gathering more data, an addiction to podcasts and books and conversations on this new topic, a lot of reflection on the Holy Spirit and the human soul, a sudden feeling of massive vulnerability and desperation for biblical truth, and finally wrapping up with my Bible spread open almost every day to Romans, with early morning light falling upon scribbled diagrams and flowcharts and Greek words. A journal that once held nothing but a well-intentioned prayer (that wasn't even my own words) was now filled with pages of desire and seeking.
Ahh.... finally. The flame.
I would not have just shown up at my kitchen table at sunrise and been excited about dissecting Romans instead of sleeping. I wanted to want it, but I would have literally fallen asleep in my chair. I couldn't just create passion in my weary self; it had to spark somewhere, and I had neither the fuel or the flame.
Instead, God came down to me. He was the one to do it. He picked me up exactly where he knew I'd be wandering around and went along the trail of my affections and fascinations, gaining steam and momentum as I woke up slowly along the way. By the time I arrived at that open Bible, I was fully awake. The desire was finally there, again, but that spark was an outside force.
In a culture that praises authenticity and yet heaps shame for thinking, feeling, or doing anything that might offend or seem incompetent, it's a relief to come before God with complete frankness. It's freeing to finally offer up myself (heart, mind, and soul) for inspection because I know that 1) nothing is hidden from him, anyways, and 2) there is only good on the other side of that surrender.
I don't have to be afraid of how little I want God some days, because it just proves how messed up I actually am on the inside. My lack of desire and affection, my lack of want, points directly to my need. Lack of desire for God and need for him, as my engineer husband would say, are inversely proportional.
There's an odd spiritual science in which we are made strong in our weakness, made whole in our brokenness, and made perfect in our humility. Maybe I can't do strong, whole and perfect, but I most certainly can do weak, broken and humble.
And lately I'm finding that, pretty often, that's where the spark is.