Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls – Psalm 42:7
God is hardly shallow.
I’ve worked in mission in one way or another since I left school – and as a “career” since 1990. I started by working with street kids who had been damaged by life – particularly by the people around them. Often, in fact largely, by the very people who should have been most trustworthy, most safe. The amount of pain these kids were generally in was just ridiculous.
How on earth do you represent God to a person who has been badly hurt?
I think it is arrogance to believe that faith can be imposed from the outside… when it is God who made each person in his own image. So he made us to know him – and we each have the right equipment to know him with. Plus the yearning to do it.
So I learnt to listen.
I’ll never forget one night – I was living as a “lead tenant” in a youth refuge. One of the young people living there got really angry and unreasonable around dinner time, and ended up going to sit outside and have a smoke. So I just went and sat next to him, and kept my mouth shut.
Didn’t take long really – he’d had a rotten interchange with a family member, and that brought up a whole lot of other memories and issues. So, he talked and talked. I just sat there and grunted from time to time to let him know I was listening.
It was awesome actually. He settled after a bit, and the whole process built so much trust between us. We had already had a great working relationship – but this one moment is the one I will always remember most strongly.
Thing is – he really didn’t need me to tell him what to do. He certainly didn’t need me to give him a hard time about his behaviour, and he didn’t need to be punished. When he went back inside, he was better behaved because he was in a better place.
He had a slow journey closer to faith – but it was moments like the one we had on the back step that made the difference. He needed a safe place where he could be himself, work out things for himself.
Sadly enough, we lost contact after we both moved on from the house.
I know all about being under pressure to conform, or to do what others think is necessary to keep my relationship with God alive. Honestly, I swear some people believe that if I don’t have them around to help me keep my faith I will lose it.
God is different. Sometimes – often actually – I wish we could have a long phone call and he would tell me what to do. But I think he trusts me and knows that, years ago, I chose him because I wanted to, not because someone else forced me to. And when I sit in the garden, or walk along the beach, I naturally want to talk to him. It comes from deep within me, and around anyone safe I will relax and be myself – my good self.
There’s nothing God doesn’t know about me. Not just because he’s God – but because he’s safe, and he listens. I’ve told him everything of note – and many things that aren’t. The good and the bad – nothing hidden, to the best of my knowledge.
Best advice I could give anyone about God is to tell him everything – the whole story – get it all out. Be your deeper self with him. Even the secrets you’d never tell your best friend – good and bad. You might just find it’s a huge relief.