One large reason we resent God and just as soon forget about him is that he refuses to come to us in the way we think we need him to come to us. We reason like this: God is magnificent and wondrous, who knows no limits; thus he will come to us in unmistakable splendor. Yet our prayers waft into the silent beyond. Worship feels like a mud puddle of words. We ask for healing and we end up paying medical bills. We long for love and file for divorce.
Where is the God of miracle and wonder when we need him? He does not seem very dependable. And rather than look to him and be disappointed time and again, we decide to forget the vertical and focus on the horizontal. We’re sensible enough not to abandon Christian faith because in spite of our confusion we still believe it the way to eternal life. Just don’t ask us to take seriously the presence of God.
Oh yes, there are miracles and wonders in the Bible. To be sure, some have experienced the power and the glory of God today. No question about it. But these are not nearly as obvious as we sometimes think. Remember that many saw and heard the resurrected Lord right before their very eyes and ears, and yet they still doubted (Matt. 28:17).
We are wiser to think of miracle and wonder as God’s defibrillator. We are sometimes so dead to God we need an electric shock to the heart to wake us up. But after that, things return to normal, and God returns to his normal mode of address. Man does not live by divine defibrillator alone, for a life of miracle and wonder would kill us. Instead, God comes to us as silently and subtly as the steady beating of our hearts.
If the first step in desiring God is to recognize how much we resent his presence, the second step is to accept how, in fact, he has chosen to be with us. We have to know what it is we desire. If we desire miracles, we will never find God. If we desire God, we must give up miracles and look for him in the mundane.
In the human and inadequate words of the preacher.
In the confusing language and idioms of the Bible.
In the bread and wine of Communion.
In the water of baptism.
In the gathering or two or three come together for prayer.
In the everyday experience of mystery, of not knowing, of wonder, of the perplexing—of which life is chock full.