When God Seems Idle
I read the most disturbing, kind of hilarious thing today.
According to TIME Magazine, the human attention span is officially lower than a goldfish’s.
8 seconds, ya’ll: the average human attention span.
I believe it. When I get restless, I am quick as a whip to pull out my phone or fill my time with whatever is right in front of me. With convenient entertainment increasing, there is always something for us to turn to when we are in a funk.
This inability to focus may seem obvious when it to our everyday lives, but how do you think it rubs off onto our spiritual lives? When we find ourselves in a season of wandering, I am willing to bet these distracted tendencies play a huge part in the ways we wait on God.
In Exodus 32, the Israelites were still wandering through the desert when God called Moses and Joshua to go up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law. Before Moses left, he told the elders to stay put until he and Joshua returned from the mountain. Moses and Joshua remained on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. Meanwhile, the Israelites grew restless and impatient. They said to Aaron (the man in charge),
“Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Exodus 32:1
And just like that, the whole camp took their best jewelry and fine metals and built a golden calf to worship. The Lord told Moses,
“Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them.” Exodus 32: 7-8
It only took 40 days for them to grow tired of waiting on God and serve something else. They were probably asking, “Where is this God who promised to be with us? Why aren’t we making any progress? Why do we have to wait here for this Moses guy to come back? Why not take matters into our own hands?”
It’s easy to scoff at their impatience and impulsiveness, when in reality, I’m sure we have some of the same tendencies in seasons where God seems silent. Like the Israelites, when God seems slow to come through, we are quick to wander.
Egypt, the land that the Israelites were delivered from, was a culture full of idolatrous practices and polytheism. The practice of idolatry was incredibly convenient because idols were made on human terms and human timing. If they wanted something, they built an idol. Simple. Easy. Done. Not surprisingly, the Israelites adapted to the customs of this culture by having a simliar mentality. They were merely repeating what they saw happen a thousand times in Egypt.
Looking at today’s culture, we also are submerged in a “microwave minded” society. We can quench our impatience by creating idols out of money, careers, media, relationships, and all kinds of other “gods” that can temporarily satisfy us. Like the Israelites, if we don’t remember who rescued us, we will turn to other things to rescue us from our current dilemma. But the thing is, idols don’t deliver; they only distract. We repeatedly give to them and they never satisfy. Ultimately, serving idols will make us just like them: empty.
When God seems silent, when we’re in the heat of the desert waiting for answers–how do we wait the right way? What do we do when it seems easier to serve something accessible rather than wait on God’s timing?
Jon Bloom describes this desert-waiting process so beautifully. He says,
“Deprivation draws out desire. Absence heightens desire. And the more heightened the desire, the greater the satisfaction will be.”
These desert seasons of wandering make us crazy for comfort, and we can find it in two places: in Christ or in culture. When we choose to find comfort in Christ, it is often by relying on Him with every fiber of our being. It is desperate. It is needy and it is humbling. Yet, this kind of desperation makes our intimacy with Christ so rich because He meets us in the emptiness and satisfies the very deepest parts of us. The dry seasons tend to take us to the end of ourselves and nearer to the heart of God.
When our ears ache to hear something, when we’re starving for direction, and when being distracted is easier than be devoted, remember that those desert valleys tend to bring our faces low to the ground in angst for His voice. And it is in the lowliness that we find ourselves in the perfect place to receive wholly and fully what God will give. Our desperation makes divine providence that much sweeter.
As we wrap up this series, I want to leave us with these words that serve as a reminder of hope as we wander:
“It is the desert that awakens and sustains desire. It is the desert that dries up infatuation with worldliness. The desert draws us to the well of the world to come.”
– Jon Bloom
As we wander, may our knees become well acquainted with those desert floors and our hearts ever desperate and sensitive for the voice of God. He always delivers, always protects and always provides– yes, even as we wander.
If you missed the past couple of weeks, click here to catch up!