by Alex Hardt
I recently took a group of students to a conference called CHIC, Covenant High In Christ. It’s where 4,000+ students from around the world gather to learn about themselves, others, and most importantly God. The whole week was beyond what anyone imagined it to be, and it really challenged these students in ways they probably have never been challenged before. God was on the move.
THERE WAS SOMETHING ELSE ON THE MOVE
It was uplifting and yet interesting being in the arena with over 4,000 students plus adults as we worshipped God. Throughout the night different things took place like competitions, games, performing artists, worship, prayer, testimonies, messages, and more. The constant change engaged the students and forced them to change their posture. They couldn’t remain still for more than a few moments, their eyes were constantly spanning the room, their bodies responding to what was happening around them, and the interaction with each other & the stage guests was constant. It would take more effort not to engage in what was happening then to engage. So even those who were reluctant to respond ended up responding to what was going on in some way or another. When one of the musical artists started a new song or the song changed paced the students immediately looked around hoping to find the right response to what was happening. They wanted their response to match that of the crowd. A song slows and the phones light up the room as students wave their arms back and forth. A song speeds up and everyone begins clapping, jumping, or just being crazy. When a song was less engaging they reverted to clapping or swaying.
This got me thinking that this isn’t much different than life.
WE LONG FOR A RESPONSE
You hear a news story about a tragedy or a painful experience and most of us feel sad/empathetic towards those who are experiencing that tragedy. Somebody cuts us off on the highway and we raise our fist in anger or scream unmentionable things. We show our boss the work we have done and we expect some sort of response. We look for, expect, and even long for a response. It’s why a child might say dad a thousand times in a row if no response is given the other 999 even if the response, in the end, is a loud, frustrated, scream: Don’t Bother Me or Not Now! Our desire for a response comes out of our desire to be acknowledged, to be heard, to be known/seen. A lack of response makes us feel unwanted or invisible.
BUT WHAT IF THE RESPONSE DOESN’T COME?
The response may be good or bad, but either way it’s better than a lack of response. But what if the response doesn’t come? What do we do with a lack of response or a response not given in the time we desired? A friend doesn’t respond to a text within an hour, a boss doesn’t reply back to the work you submitted within the week, a relative never responds to a wedding invite, a job application never gets acknowledged, or our cries out to God seem to go unnoticed. In these moments our minds often to seem to assume the worst or spiral into fear. That person doesn’t like me, or that person is repaying me for this, or I’m going to be fired, or God has forgotten about me.
What I have found to be true more and more is that the worst is rarely the reality. Things get lost, miscommunication happens, people have other things going on, their understanding of a timeline is different than ours, etc. A lack of response can distance us or draw us closer. It can be seen as a lack of care on the other person part or as an opportunity to re-engage that person, to bridge the gap, to communicate our care/concern for the other rather. We choose our perception of the events that have taken place.
DO WE SEE THIS IN THE BIBLE?
We see this with Abram, who would later become Abraham, who was called to be the Father of nations by God at 75 years old and it wasn’t until 100 years of age that God fulfilled that promise. Abram had to wait 25 years before God responded to the promise he made to Abram. Abram and his wife got impatient along the way and decided that Abram should have a child with another. Abram didn’t understand the timeline that God had for him. His perception of the events unfolding was that God would not follow through on his word and so he would have to take matters into his own hands. He caused way more grief than was necessary. His lack of understanding led to division. Haven’t we all been like Abram at times? We cry out to God and petition on our own behalf for God to intercede only to feel let down when it didn’t come when or how we expected it to. If we take a cue from Abram and the rest of the Scriptures, then we see that God is always faithful to His word.
Deut 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Rather than seeing a “lack of response” as division or abandonment from the Father, perhaps we can begin to see it as a time of preparation and transformation. Maybe your time is different than God’s. Maybe God is preparing you for what is to come because what is to come is far greater than you could imagine. Maybe what you were praying wasn’t what you needed and God is working within you to transform, to shape you, to mold you so that your heart aligns with His. By the time Isaac was born, God had been working on Abram for 25 years. Following the fulfillment of God’s promise, Abram would be tested in Genesis 22, when he was asked to sacrifice his son. Abram would then demonstrate who he was that day was much stronger than who he was 25 years earlier. And who he was that day was exactly the leader that God needed him to be.