God says he will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31 and Hebrews 13:5) So he is with us when we are alone, when we are in bed alone, when we are in the car alone, when we are walking alone.
So many sermons talk about recognizing that God is with us and becoming aware of his presence, but every single sermon, somewhere in the talk, the speaker seems to suggest we should primarily ask God, as we are acknowledging his presence, “what do you want me to do for you today?”
Now that my husband is no longer physically with me, God’s presence is so much more important to me. I need someone to talk to while I drive in the car and go about my day, and I am not fully convinced that Shah stills hears me while I talking. (Of course, he is a man, so he didn’t necessarily alwaya hear me when he was physically alive either.) Sometimes I think he does, but sometimes I’m not completely sure. I’m still trying to figure out that theology. But, I know God hears me whether I am addressing God or addressing Shah, and I know God is patient with me either way.
It can be hard to start a conversation with God, if you aren’t used to doing it, but when you look for thoughts or listen to sermons, every preacher seems to say, ask God “what shall I do today?” And maybe it’s just me, but there is something very unfulfilling about that conversation. When I think about it, I almost never asked Shah this question. What a boring relationship we would have had if every time we talked, I asked him what he wanted me to do. How impersonal! I did sometimes ask him if there was something I could do for him, because I was looking for something to do to make him happy, because I loved him, not because he was my boss.
If God is our lover, husband and friend, there must be more our conversations than, “what is my task for today.”
Most of the time Shah and I just talked about life. I talked about my thoughts and feelings, what I wondered about and what he had done. I think we should be more like that with God.
But I don’t want to completely throw out talking to God about what we should do today. I just think I should totally rethink it.
I’ve thought about this verse a lot recently from 1 Cor 7:
32I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. 33But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife. 34His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband. 35I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.
I had my second large number of hours home alone with Zoya and I almost had a breakdown (or I did have a breakdown) asking what am I going to do with the rest of my life? What is its meaning? Will forever be nothing other than babysitting?
And then I went for a walk with a friend, and I started thinking about the 1 Cor 7 verse. Do you know what God wanted me to do yesterday? He wanted me to go for a walk with a friend and then go out to eat and watch the Olympics. Just like a year ago Shah wanted me to nap while he cooked. Maybe “what do you want me to do is a fine question to ask God?” It’s our perspective of the God we are asking that needs to change.
We need to recognize God as a friend and lover and when we are asking what does he want us to do that day, we should know that it is something for our good. No, it won’t always be as pleasant as a walk with a friend. Some days it will be hard and some days it will hurt, but it will be an answer from our friend and father, not an answer from our boss and task master.