April 10, 2011

Does God Play Keep Away?

Over the past few weeks I've been talking with friends about unmet expectations.  One is dealing with regret for never developing deep and intimate friendships while at college.  Another can't understand why her talents continue to go unrecognized in interviews.  And many, many friends are facing the harsh reality of unrequited love.

 The common thread through these experiences is desire.  It's a built in part of being human.  To be human is to be mortal.  To be mortal is to have needs, both physical and spiritual.  Needs that we all desire to have fulfilled.  In part, that is how God calls us towards his heart.  Part of being human is needing God.  Needing his love.  To be an enemy of God, to be despised and rejected by one's Maker, I can think of no worse fate.  Humans are relational beings made for communion with God and one another.

Yet when it comes to certain areas of life, particularly relationships, I often hear Christians make a strange statement.  "If God hasn't brought you a relationship yet, it's because you want one too much.  Get to the point where you no longer desire it and you're okay being single, and then God will provide."  Makes sense right?  At least it sounds good, in some unspoken, off-handed sort of way.  It is a popular idea we all grow up hearing about.

I remember a preacher who spoke in chapel last year with a similar story.  He deeply wanted to go out for professional baseball, but decided to lay the desire down at God's feet.  The next day, he got a call from a big league team looking for another player.  So, it may be that God does work that way.  Sometimes.

But it doesn't seem to me that such advice really makes sense, or has any biblical basis.  Scripture does tell us that we do not have because we do not ask, or we ask wrongly.  It tells us that just as we give good gifts to our children, God gives good things to those who ask him.  I don't know where the idea comes from that God wants you to stop wanting something before he'll give you what you want.  Such an idea sounds preposterous.  It makes God out to be a schoolyard bully, holding something just out of reach.  Playing keep away with our hearts.

Furthermore, as long as we are talking about things that are inherently good, why should we not want them?  Maybe it's entirely okay to continue desiring to be in a relationship until God sees fit to grant that desire.  Yes, it is important to recognize that God works on his own terms and in his own time, but does this mean that during the interim we have to deny the very desires that he placed inside us?  Such an admission is self defeating. If you ever got to the point where you truly denied that desire, well I should think that when God did fulfill it you would have no interest anyway!  The gasping relief people display when they say "God brought me to the point where I was okay being single, AND THEN, praise God, he brought me my spouse!", betrays the fact that they were never really content being single to begin with.  Had they been, it would have come as no relief to finally have a partner.  Yet perhaps even more important, it would not have been such a miraculous blessing.

You see, God creates us all to desire love.  Perhaps the joy of having those prayers answered allows us to love God even more.  If there is no desire, where is there room for thankfulness?  To deny that we desire relationships is to deny the very thing that makes us human.  So to those who are waiting, hoping, and praying for their silhouettes, don't stop.  Let your desires drive you to God.  Trust him when he says he wants to give good things to his children. And then, clutching your dreams to your heart, sit back and wait.  Wait for your Father to work his wonders.


lyndsey said...

This is good. More people at Cedarville ought to read this.

Mark Zellner said...

Thanks, Lyndsey. Feel free to share it with them! :)