What if God doesn’t show up?

Because sometimes when you’re in that place where the salt rubs, where the ache is real, where numbness seems like a better option, it’ll get better isn’t what you need to hear. Hang in there isn’t what you need to hear.

Sometimes more than you need to hear anything you need to see something real.

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I sat there on the couch in the quiet, picking at the small, threadbare spot in the blue slipcover.

Frayed, I thought. I’m frayed. And a little afraid.

It’s not often we let ourselves go into the space where we’re silent and vulnerable with our deepest fears, deepest desires, deepest hurts. It’s even rarer that we put ourselves in that space on purpose.

Maybe it’s because we’re afraid to fully see our frayedness.

Maybe it’s just plain easier to be distracted.

Or maybe it’s because we’re scared that when we finally sit still and put it all out there, God won’t show up. And if we lay it all out, and He doesn’t show up to rush into that space, will our emotions overwhelm us?

Discomfort is a feeling we don’t really love.

But rawness and rejection are feelings we avoid at pretty much any cost.

This weekend, I got to meet a new friend who’s been walking some hard roads. We talked for a few minutes here and there before she sat down beside me at one point and said quietly, “I really want it. I know God’s there. But I just can’t seem to get it.”

The “it” was peace.

But she was afraid if she sat still, unbearable emptiness would gnaw at her frayed soul rather than peace rushing in and putting it back together.

It’s a valid fear. I don’t know that most of us haven’t felt that way before. Because what if it takes more than once? What if the first time we open our souls to the silence, it feels like salt in our wounds? What if it still does the second time? And the third time?

But what if, in order to really know God, that’s what we have to do? What if we have to face ourselves honestly and devote time to tune our hearts to want God more than anything else? What if we have to be willing to keep stepping into that silent space and tell Him we’re ready and willing to lay down the things we want — all of it — if we can get all of Him in return?

And that if the cost is a little discomfort, we still want Him.

And if the cost is all of ourselves, if it’s anything and everything, we still want Him.

It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

As I sat beside my friend this weekend, all I could think to say back was … it’s real. It’s real, and it’s worth it.

Because sometimes when you’re in that place where the salt rubs, where the ache is real, where numbness seems like a better option, it’ll get better isn’t what you need to hear. Hang in there isn’t what you need to hear.

Sometimes more than you need to hear anything you need to see something.

And that something is what real peace from Jesus looks like when it’s smashed across someone’s face, across someone’s life.

I remember when I was in that place where silence meant salt-rubbing, the only thing that made me sit still, read the Bible and keep asking God to show me who He really was at any cost was that I saw some people who really loved Jesus … people who wore it a lot differently than I did.

I didn’t know how to get it. I didn’t know what it would feel like.

But I knew it had to feel different, or they wouldn’t be so different.

I knew it had to be real.

And that meant I could have it too.

I was driving somewhere the other day with another friend and talking about how easy it is for us to distract ourselves and not ever sit still, even when we know doing it is worth it.

And she said this:

“It’s such a hard thing to make ourselves do sometimes, especially when we’re not in the habit. But it really does make such a difference. And if you think about it, God is smart in the way He rigged this. Good things always take work and sacrifice, so why should the best thing we can have not take everything we have?”

She’s right.

It’s real, but it’s not easy.

It’s free, but it costs everything.

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

It starts in the quiet of our hearts with the whisper of His truth … the silence of our surrender … then the roar of His peace.

He’ll show up.

He always does.

*****

i dont wait anymore

And that’s the story told in “I Don’t Wait Anymore” the book … how the best things are worth our whole lives, and how God is worth so much more than our dreams.

Are you ready to let go? Or at least ready to think about it?

His story’s just waiting for you to reach out and grab it.

Now at Barnes & Noble and other retailers. Check it out here.

10 thoughts on “What if God doesn’t show up?

  1. It has been 40+ years since I gave myself to God through Jesus. 40+ years of nothing from God. Never seen, heard, or felt anything. I feel like God has never taken any interest in me. At this point I am starting to think that God’s word, though true, is incomplete. I’ll explain; “God will never leave you” , God has to show up before He can leave. Time keeps moving forward, so you will get through every situation whether God is there or not. So is God actually doing anything? God has a plan to prosper you and not bring harm to you. The part about that plan being after you die is left out. Then there is the confusing stuff like, God doesn’t want you to suffer, but leaves you to suffer anyway because He thinks it’s good for you. It could be me but that doesn’t make sense. Thanks and may God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen

    1. Hi, Kenneth. Thanks so much for the note, and sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’m sorry this has been your experience. I’d love to talk with you more about these individual thoughts (feel free to send me an email through the contact form), but the biggest thing I’d tell you is that the most life-changing thing for me has been to spend time and energy studying God’s Word. For a lot of my life, I felt the disconnect between passages in the Bible and felt they didn’t make sense together. In reading through the Bible inductively (using studies like Jen Wilkin’s studies of individual books of the Bible or what my friends put together over at ReachingHer.com), what has happened is that God’s character has become something that feels solid to me, and learning some of these passages in the context of the big story of the Bible and who God is has made He’s too big and mysterious for us to ever understand Him completely, but we can understand Him better and get a solid foundation of who He is. For instance, I think I know which passage you’re talking about of Him “knowing the plans He has for us, to prosper us and give us a future, not harm.” Some things that help there is knowing that that was spoken in that time to a specific people at a specific time – the Israelites when they were in exile. But we can still hear the promise of that ringing true for us too as God’s people in that in Christ we’ve been given a future and a hope. And then in Hebrews 11, we read that we are not made for this earth – that we will suffer here – but that our desire is for a better country, the one we’ll have one day with Christ in heaven. Learning how these things fit across the whole Bible makes it come alive and helps us to know better who He is. I’d urge you to try one of those kinds of studies (those two I named aren’t just for the ladies). It’s made all the difference in my life.

      1. Hello,

        Let’s start with the part of your reply that reading God’s word lets us get to know God’s character. I will agree that is true. The problem that I find is that having read the whole Bible, God’s character seems to me to be selfish, self centered, self serving, jealous, egotistical, uncaring. Just to put it simplely, God is only for God and His glory. Personally I feel that to get to know someone (God) you need two way communication. Unless God actually communicates there is no way to get closer to God. I am tired of this one sided conversation (prayer is one sided). God doesn’t actually speak to us. Like I said before, I have never heard, seen, or felt anything from God.

        Next, lets address the hope and future. Even through Jesus the same thing applies. Directed towards our eternal life not our mortal life. There is no hope or future in this world.

        Now I will mention our suffering in this miserable life. The Bible says that we will have seasons of trials and tribulations in this life. What I have experienced doesn’t hold true to that. Seasons means more than one season, it’s plural. My experience has been one never ending season of suffering, hardships.

        When I read the Bible, it doesn’t “come to life”, nothing jumps out at me. I read fantasy novels and can picture what the author is saying. Reading the Bible I can’t picture anything. Just plain words on a page.

        It is heartbreaking that God won’t get involved in my life, in a way that I need Him too. So much for God meeting our every need. Speaking of needs, what about purpose?

        Well thanks and may God bless you,in Jesus name, Amen.

  2. After 51 years of repenting for every wrong thought action attitude, praying, worshiping, bible studies, praying for the sick, improving every attitude, thought, word spoken, feeling and action. Quickly overcoming one of the most physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually abusive childhoods mental health pros had ever encountered and becoming a positive, productive, self supporting, contributing, caring, helping member of society (to the amazement of the mental health professionals, people as severely abused from age zero to adulthood rarely keep from becoming suicides, murderers, druggies/alcoholics, mental institute residences). I took NO drugs, ( Except some prescrip meds that all made more problems for me instead of healing me), NO alcohol, NO smoking etc etc etc. Constantly and consistently building faith by keeping the word of god coming in my ears, eyes, mind and out of my mouth etc etc Watched very little TV because it bothered/offended me when people would use Gods/Jesus name in vain, ridicule them and all the sin etc. Did Thousands of hours of Quiet contemplative prayer and much more. I applied everything I learned through Bible studies and heard preachers teach. If I thought I heard God telling me something to stop or start doing/thinking etc. I changed as fast as I could. Even did the rebuke, cast out evil spirits spiritual warfare approach. Ate very healthy, exercised, stress reducing actions, self care and self help therapy, best doctors dentists hygiene lifestyle etc on the planet.

    Another words I did all possible instead of just sitting back expecting God to do it all and fix everything. Finally I have come to the conclusion God does not exist or if he does he refuses to help! During the 40 years, physical problem after physical problem just kept on coming at me. And every problem is chronic and permanently damaging. No doctor, medicine, regime, effort, faith, prayer, love etc. stopped, reversed, prevented, undid even one problem. God ignores people and does not care that we suffer. I spent 2 decades with unquestioning, undoubting, no matter what happens, I had faith. Period. Still received absolutely zero relief and help from God. He fixes, stops, prevents and reverses absolutely nothing. I never could understand why a Heavenly Loving Father NEVER loved ME.

    Don t say it is my attitude. I had multiple decades of good attitude through it all.

    Although it did finally deeply wound and hurt me as much or more then what my parents did to me. Millions of ignored prayers as you suffer deeply and do all you can (my friend said “I do everything right”) wounds and hurts people until they just give up. And yes there was a long period of time where I stopped trying and just turned it over to God and relaxed and got out of his way and quit trying to help him so much… just let Him do it for me with me doing nothing but being in Peace and faithfully waiting on God. I got nothing.

    1. Hi, Monica – thank you for your note. First, I just would like to say how deeply sorry I am that you’ve had to walk such a tough and painful road. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have walked through abuse and the chronic health problems that you mentioned. My heart breaks for you. I know it may be hard to believe, but I can promise you He loves you and does care that you suffer. Our world is so broken by sin, it can be so hard to lift our eyes and see what Love really looks like … we think sometimes that if God’s love really existed, it would swoop into our broken earthly lives and fix everything here. Sometimes, especially when things are hard and painful, life here can feel so big, so long and like it’s all there ever is and ever will be. But what God’s love says to us – and has always said – is that the life that’s still to come is our real life. Any suffering here only “lasts for a night” in light of eternity, and joy comes in the morning – once we are there face to face with Him. We can’t earn earthly healing by doing everything right … instead, what we do is press into a God who loves us infinitely and promises that any suffering we walk through here is purposeful for the life to come (2 Corinthians 4-5). While we wait for that, the Bible says we groan inside wanting to put off the bodies we have here and be with Him in perfection, the way we were created to be. We weren’t created to suffer, but sin broke that. And Christ – suffering on our behalf – bought us a future with no suffering where everything is set right. Our world here is broken – and if we lean into Him, He gives us what we need each day to press on. My heart breaks for you, but He never promised healing here in this life. What He promises is that one day, if we trust Him, we will live with Him forever in a place where He personally will wipe our tears away. That’s the ultimate love – the one who takes our suffering here in this sin-broken place and turns it into an eternity with God, the one who loves us and keeps track of every tear that we cry here and one day gives us perfect healing. I’m glad you wrote. I’d love to keep talking to you about this if you’d like. Feel free to email me at grace@gracefortheroad.com.

  3. I’m wondering if I’ve just grown tired of waiting…or if I’m too depressed and/or discouraged..or am I just sinfully lazy at this point.
    Been waiting for a long long long time.
    I have studied, prayed, worshipped, soaked, been prayed for, gone to “healing” sessions and retreats, for over 30 years. What’s a girl…older woman now, gotta do?
    Of course, at times I have felt
    God’s presence and mercy but overall I find myself feeling very apart from his provision for the challenges in my life. I have been ill with somewhat mysterious conditions, have sought many alternative doctor’s as well as traditional, eaten properly, (have a degree in Natural health), yet everyday I feel like I havethe flu and am in pain from head to toes. I have cery little help, am not able to be out ofbedformore thanafew hours per day. Whenyou are chronically ill, you don’t have the energy to maintain friendships, and eventually find yourself without many. Now, I feel so discouraged, I have lost my “fight”. I have lost my desire to keep pressing in. I am tired, and sick, and do jot sense God in my life. So I am left with the guilt of Christians just counseling that I need to “press in” etc, etc. Ok, so nothing changes for 30 years? How can anyone be sick for 30 years, wake up sick amd in pain every day, and keep the faith. Not easy! Where are
    You God. Why would you want me to keep
    Suffering. If ine more person teel me about Joni, I’ll puke! I think she probably has people around that assist her with her daily needs and chores, right? Maybe that helps a bit, whenyou havean “obvious” disability. Chronic invisable disabilities don’t generally draw helpers..it is tough.I used to be more faith filled..I’ve been slowly beaten downbylife and pain and lost hope.

  4. Grace I just want to say how much of a blessing you are. I got to know your blog while searching for the poem you wrote of the same title. And since that time I have seen over and over again how your honesty has inspired me in my walk with the Lord. I’ve learned to struggle the right way, to be challenged the right way. To know that to be human means going through these fleshly emotions. It’s how we respond, how we deal with the struggle that makes all the difference. You’ve taught me that Christianity is not about showing the world that we’ve got it all under control and pretend. It doesn’t mean we beat ourselves up for feeling weak. What it does mean is a dependency on Jesus that compares to none. That He would be our first turn leaving and baring all before Him. To really know what it means in His word when He said my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Grace, when I pre-ordered your book, I was at a high point in my life in my first relationship. When I finally got your book in May, I was at my lowest, my relationship turning into an idol in my heart. God knew my friend. He sees our days ahead and He is always on time. I have never met you although that would be a great thing to but I’ve never felt His love more than now… God knew I needed to hear your story. All your struggles, challenges, the pain you felt through the many events that occurred in your life. They are sending a ripple effect across the nations. They are all for a time such as now. God never promised a pain free life. He has only promised Himself for us. That is the theme of what I am learning to speak into my life. I am a child of God and this God loves me. I am pressed to know Him more. I really love how Paul puts it. “For I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Thank you for pointing us back to the gospel. Richest blessings dear sister 😊 May you have a deeper revelation of who Christ is.

      1. Hey there, sister. You’re right. This God loves you. I’m glad you feel Him pursuing you and are putting your life into chasing Him back! Praying for you this morning, that in this low point you’ll keep feeling pressed to know Him more and that He will fill your heart up with more of Himself all the time. I’m glad you wrote. :)

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