This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent day 22: Searching, hearing, following

Emily Kauffman is currently a junior at Goshen (Indiana) College. She is an Interdisciplinary major with focuses in Communications, Psychology and Bible. Emily has a passion for stories and finding creative ways to create spaces where storytelling is facilitated.

God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!”

But Ahaz said, “I’d never do that. I’d never make demands like that on God!”

So Isaiah told him, “Then listen to this, government of David! It’s bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you’re making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us). By the time the child is twelve years old, able to make moral decisions, the threat of war will be over. Relax, those two kings that have you so worried will be out of the picture. But also be warned: God will bring on you and your people and your government a judgment worse than anything since the time the kingdom split, when Ephraim left Judah. The king of Assyria is coming!” Isaiah 7:10-17 The Message (MSG)

This passage in Isaiah got me thinking. How often do I cry out to God? Or, if I’m honest, how often am I in communication with God? I think about him, but how often do I talk to him? Is there a difference? Have I have given up on the fact that God is capable of hearing my cries and answering them?

My questions led me to this lament from Psalm 22. I first read it during the Lenten season as I made my way through the stations of the cross located in Hesston (Kansas) Mennonite Church. As I reflect on the space I am in today, I find the Psalmist’s vulnerable cries ringing true for me in this Advent season.

Lament Psalm Twenty-Two

“I don’t know where to look for you, O God!
I’ve called and I’ve called.
I’ve looked and I’ve looked.
I go back to my room and sit in the dark waiting for you.
Could you give me a sign that you’ve heard?
Could you numb my emotions so I wouldn’t hurt so much?
No sign of you!
I’m dying, O God, without you.
O God of wonder,
You can change it all.
You can distract me from the thoughts of death.
You can fill my days with purpose.
You can make the nights shorter.
You can let me find you.
Don’t hide from me any longer, O God.
O God, you reveal yourself to those who call upon your name.
Blessed be my God who doesn’t fail me!”

Just as Ahaz hears the call from Isaiah to “Ask for a sign from your God!” I hear a call to be more intentional in my communication with God. And at the same time, I reflect on my own inconsistency with this call in the past few months.

My world seems to revolve around Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, relationships, the to-do lists, and the endless string of questions forming in my mind. I have a feeling your world looks much the same.  

With that said, I’d like to offer a different way to approach the conversation of making time for God in the midst of our busy lives.

It is my belief that we can often make the “if only I had more time I would feel closer to God” excuse. Because, realistically speaking, who has the privilege to make that time?

I am in no way saying that we must never try to be intentional in setting aside time to be and soak in the presence of God.

What I am saying is that God is not limited to daily devotionals, prayer before meals and Sunday mornings. We must not forget that God is speaking to us in the everyday.

In fact, God is speaking into our lives through the lives of those we interact with. God is in the co-worker you have a particularly hard time being around. God is in the teacher you have a hard time learning from. God is in the customer who snaps at you when you give her the wrong change. And yes, God is also in those we love and care deeply about.

Do we believe this? I was reading a book by one of my favorite humans, Glennon Doyle Melton, where she writes about her belief that God keeps creating humans to continue telling the story of who he is. What if we thought about it that way? That in each person you meet, God is telling a little more about himself.

With this belief in mind, God is not done telling us about himself yet.

With this in mind, I believe we must answer the call to be intentional and authentic in our communication with God. Being honest and raw with how we are experiencing his activity and his creation in our lives. The communication as is with all relationships won’t always be easy, but I think we’re missing the point if we think it is supposed to be.

Romans 8:26-27 reads, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs to deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

God knows us. He knows our minds, hearts and souls. And he desires for us to know him, to seek him out, to look for him, to identify the ways he continues to tell us abouthHimself.
I believe now comes the question, “How must we know what to look for or listen for from God?” which leads me to the question, “What does God look like?”

I believe the answer to that question is in Isaiah’s call to Ahaz.  

He says, “Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us).”

God sent Jesus to dwell among us to give us a glimpse of his plan for restoration. May we find restoration as we find the desire within ourselves to ask God to show up. And may we also be present with our questions, doubts and uncertainties and answer the same call to show up to God. May this act of showing up lead us more and more into the center of God’s heart as we learn more about ourselves and our God through his son Jesus Christ.

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