- Candace Erickson
Expecting More: Learning to Listen for the Everpresent Father
God isn’t an absent father.
That was the thought that anchored itself into my mushy brain on a random Tuesday in the middle of the month. My brain had been working overtime and felt a little worn out, but when God plants something, well, like brownies, there’s always room for it. (My daughter and I joke about how we have an additional stomach, a “dessert stomach.” Even when our regular tummy is full, the dessert stomach has room for something sweet.) And so I find myself thinking a little more…
Too many believers treat God like an absent father. I did too at one time. We know He was part of our “birth” into this new life, our salvation. We’ve heard stories of Him showing up in these big moments, answering an important cry of the heart, comforting in a time of deep loss. (Which is wonderful, by the way!) It’s like receiving a card on your birthday or a gift on Christmas - a lot of absent fathers might do that much. Maybe. But do we expect them to show up out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon?
I’ve had conversations with believers about God’s communication with them. They may recall one or two things that they know to be God, and then the list abruptly ends. I don’t know that they expect it to be any different than that. God gave them life after all. Isn’t expecting regular communication asking too much? He called on that special occasion, and then supposedly He once again steps away during the normal days of life when there isn’t an emergency needing His attention. That’s to be expected of a busy God that has so many people to care about and such huge responsibilities - or so we think.
Sometimes we let our experience dictate our expectancy. I’ve been too tired, distracted, stressed, or self-centered to always be the best mom. (I’m kicking myself today, because last night I missed an opportunity to connect with one of my kids when they cracked open that door.) We can put the humanity of our parents or our own parenting on Him. Other times because we haven’t “caught” His communication, we figure it mustn’t be there at all. But wait….
Shouldn’t we make our experience and expectations bow to what we see in the Bible? The Bible is Truth, meaning if something in our life doesn’t match what it says, the Bible trumps all and is what we hold to. So is God an absent father? What does the Bible tell us?
We see Him walking in the cool of the day in the garden of Eden, wanting to spend time with Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:8) God places His tabernacle, His dwelling place, smack dab in the middle of the twelve tribes of Israel out in the wilderness. (Exodus, 25:8, 40:34-35, Numbers 2) And because they are in a season of wandering, He moves as well, making His home a dwelling that can be packed up and moved right alongside His people. Once the Israelites get settled in a land, a permanent structure is created for Him. His Presence fills the temple Solomon built. (II Chronicles 7:1-3) When the time was right, Jesus walked amongst humanity in human form. He made time for people even when He was tired. He touched them, walked on their streets, healed them, cried over them, and freed them. (The Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) Jesus went on to say He didn’t want to leave them alone after He left, so:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 ESV
Over and over again we see a concentrated effort by God to place Himself in the middle of His children, in the center of their everyday life. And finally with the coming of the Holy Spirit, we find God placing His Presence withIN His children, never to be separated.
Considering all this, might we expect some communication to be happening on a regular basis with God? YES! When we are around those we love, regular communication is part of healthy interaction, aiding in continued growth of the relationship. (If my hubby and I aren’t talking, more than likely someone’s mad and someone’s hurting!)
God’s love for us is unfathomable. So are you listening for Him? Those whispers, the prompts to act, the “knowing,” the unexplainable peace, the numerous encounters of the same verse/theme/message, things falling into place, the dreams,... The list of ways God communicates goes on, but are you listening? Looking? Are you expecting an ever present Father to be communicating with you just because it’s Tuesday, or have you turned a deaf ear towards Him because you didn’t anticipate Him being around?
I’m still learning the intimate and often subtle language of God, but I no longer doubt His continued Presence in the middle of my life. He wants us to stand close to hear Him, so we can experience His Presence, His humor, His depth, and His warmth. He wants you to expect Him to communicate with you even when your brain is mushy and nothing special is going on.
Looking forward to Wednesday,
And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. Leviticus 26:12 ESV