A couple of years ago Time magazine ran an article on “attachment parenting” which had a cover shot of a mom dressed in workout clothes, breastfeeding her three-year-old boy. Going for the shock value, Time succeeded, and I’m pretty sure it led to a few discussions around the watercooler concerning the “right” time to wean a child.
From my own point of view, it seems the more articulately a child can ask for a breast, the more likely it is time for the mother to withhold it. (The whole teeth thing is another conversation altogether.) Nevertheless, no matter what we believe about the right time to wean a child, I personally have never witnessed an adult breastfeeding.
I am hoping you haven’t either.
So I conclude that at one time or another, we have all been withheld from something we wanted by someone who loves us.
In Finding Faith in the Dark, I offer the possibility that this may be one way to understand how it works with God.
When we feel that God is withholding, pulling back, or staying silent, we are tempted to cry out, “You don’t love me!”, when in fact, just the opposite may be true.
I can remember during a dark time of my life, lying on my bed looking at the ceiling, and whispering a halfhearted prayer.
“Why have you done this to me?”
I felt abandoned, uncared for, and alone.
It never occurred to me to think about what God might be feeling.
When a mother withholds something from her child, it pains her when her child believes she doesn’t love him. Nevertheless because she does love her child, her greatest desire is for him to grow. So she is willing to deny her child and sacrifice his temporary affection for the growth he’ll experience for his future.
Could this be a microcosm of how God feels about us?
Author Philip Yancey says there are three questions we struggle with when we feel God’s distance and need him to be close. The questions are:
Why is God hidden? Why is God silent? Why is God unfair?
At the root of our doubts, usually one of these three questions lurks.
Because God desires to wean our faith, we are sometimes permitted to live in these questions for months and years at a time.
Some handle it by embracing a lukewarm faith, relegating God to the category of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. You don’t want to give him up altogether, but you no longer expect anything from him. However, you still visit him on holidays and in times of need.
Others divorce him altogether.
And then there is a third choice, which leads to the weaning of our faith. It’s the willingness to live in the disappointment and silence, waiting to see how God shows up.
It may not happen the way we think it should or want it to.
But it may be our first glimpse of the God who truly is.
This is the God who watched his beloved Son cry out “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”
That cry was met with silence. And Jesus’ response to that silence became his prayer. “Yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Jesus accepted God’s no so the world could experience God’s yes.
Could he have done this partly so we would follow his lead?
With so many pointing to answered prayer as a sign of God’s favor, it may seem strange to say that unanswered prayer could be a sign of greater favor still. Yet the evidence is there.
Sometimes God withholds what we want so He can give us what others’ need. And we are the better for it. Our lives become bigger than just us.
And as we grow into the faith God dreams for us to have, instead of standing on a stepping stool grasping for our own milk, we are able to go to the fridge, and pour some for others.
And I can only imagine what wells up in God’s heart when we do that.
To view a 3 minute clip about Finding Faith in the Dark, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKxS5LZ2A10
To stay updated on the release of Finding Faith in the Dark, visit my author page http://www.facebook.com/LauriePolichShort
This really spoke to me–makes the reality of God loving the way I need to be loved so clear. I know there’s something about having the heart of a mother that helps me receive the love of God. Thanks for keeping it real, Laurie!
Hands down, I deem this profound insight one of the most important in your upcoming book…a brilliant analogy that clarifies why we often go “kicking and screaming” into spiritual maturity…