I’ve just spent a week at home with my kids. I’ve asked myself (and them, without allowing them to answer) this ‘why on earth’ question many times. ‘Why on earth won’t you just let her put this giant fondant heart on the flippin’ cake you made?’ ‘Why on earth are you so loud?’ ‘Why on earth didn’t you pack a towel?’ and most often, just, ‘Why on earth!’
This question never gets me closer to my kids. They hear it and feel useless; I say it and feel angry that I am putting them down. I say it when I am exasperated and too busy or annoyed to engage in what is going on. I think I even say it for effect when other adults are around. A barrier goes up for however long it is before the next joke or cuddle. Defenses go up on both sides.
A few weeks back, I heard something at church that struck a cord with me. Here’s the gist of it: You often don’t understand your husband/wife/siblings/parents/children. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them and give them a giant piece of your heart. There are many questions you have about them that will never be answered. Does that mean you should take that piece of your heart back?
What about God? We have many, many questions of God. ‘Why on earth do you allow suffering?’ ‘Why on earth is this happening to me?’ ‘Why on earth don’t you just answer me?’
How many questions are ‘too many’ for us to give our heart to God? Five questions? Ten questions? Do we say ‘If God could answer these certain questions, I would give Him my all; until he does, I’m not prepared to get into a relationship with him.’ This is how many of us felt before we became Christians. It’s how many of us still feel. It’s probably how many of your friends feel. We are much, much more tolerant of the seemingly ridiculous behaviour of our family members than the seemingly ridiculous behaviour of the Creator of the Universe.
Here’s the blunt truth: if you wait until you have all your questions answered, you will wait forever (well, for as long as you are alive on Earth). Are you – like me with the kids – asking the question out of exasperation, not even giving Him time to answer? Have you factored in the boundlessness of Heaven? Things won’t make sense on the surface, on Earth, in the nanosecond of time we spend here. We won’t be asking ‘why on earth…’ when we get to Heaven. In my last moments, I hope I’m not asking ‘why on earth didn’t I spend more time getting to know my heavenly Father?’ Unless I make some changes, I think I will be. I think I might feel that unsettling feeling you get when you haven’t read the minutes of the last meeting; you don’t know what the interviewer will ask; you don’t know the dress code or the name of the friend you need to introduce.
This is why I sat up and listened a bit more during the ‘Stand Strong in Prayer’ seminar at the last Activate weekend away. And I could hear God say, ‘why on Earth doesn’t she want to spend more time with me?’ Yes, why on earth, I ask myself. Why on Earth?
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:7