Have you ever been desperate for God? To feel Him holding you, to know He sees you, to hear Him speak to you?
So desperate that if He were standing before you, you would climb into His lap, bury your trembling body between His shoulders and will Him to wrap you tightly in His arms?
But He’s not, is He? Standing before you, that is.
He’s not standing before me – not in a reach-out-and-touch-Him-with-my-hands kind of way. And some days, that’s the way I need Him.
Today. That’s the way I need Him today.
Sometimes we experience God’s embrace through the arms of another person, a hug, a squeeze of the hand. Or we see Him looking out at us through the eyes of a friend. Or we hear Him speaking to us on the lilt of their words.
Only I’m alone.
And even God’s word feels foreign to me. No. Rather, I feel foreign to God’s word. Impenetrable.
I read with my eyes and understand in my head only I don’t feel anything. The words never touch my heart. Like I’m oil and He’s water. The Living Water – only I can’t take a drink.
I am depleted. The need, the hunger, the emptiness. The pain, the anxiety, the terror. It’s too much.
But God’s Word is living and active, wielding power to enlighten and transform. I know this to be true. Suddenly, I am overcome with an urge to bathe in His word. To submerse myself in it, to consume it, to breathe it.
Desperate, I open the Bible on my phone and listen to the Psalms on audio. Rocking back and forth to the voice of a young woman or an Irish man, I press my Bible to my chest, my heart aching to absorb its essence. I open the softbound book, soothed by the distinct crinkle of the super-thin vellum, and bury my face in the pages. Literally. My nose, my mouth, my cheeks pressed against words that are the Living Word. Because I need Him to cover me.
And I breathe deep, and imagine the letters lifting off the pages and drifting into my lungs. Because I need him to fill me.
I envision myself shrinking and slipping into the book, spreading across the pages, becoming a two dimensional illustration. If I can’t absorb the word, maybe the word can absorb me.
I am that desperate. Desperate enough to consider actually consuming the pages – tearing them out, crumpling them up, chewing and swallowing them, one at a time.
Maybe then I will feel Him.
Because sometimes the knowing, the thinking, the believing isn’t enough. I need the sensation. I need Him to be real. Not a part of my imagination, not some idea I believe in, not letters printed on a page by a press somewhere in China. I need Him. Here. Now. With me. I need Him to be real.
And if I can’t have skin on skin, and warm breath on my neck, and strong arms around my body, then I want to feel Him in my soul, like a cool drink or a hot cup of tea on my insides. I want Him to illuminate me, like a candle burning in this jar of clay.
Desperate and brittle, I listen to the word, let it wash over me and I cry out:
God, fill me. Feed me. Cover me. Infuse me. I need you. More of you. So much more of you. Don’t let the nothingness overtake me. Be my everything. Not my just-enough. But my everything. Not my getting-by. But my all-I-need-and-more. Not my wishful-thinking but my very-present-help-in-times-of-trouble. Not my God-who-helps-those-who-help-themselves but my God-who-helps-the-helpless-and-gives-hope-to-the-hopeless-and-is-father-to-the-fatherless. Meet me here, Lord. Reveal yourself to me because I can’t find you.
And I wait and listen and pray and pray and listen and wait, trusting in Him, in His word that fills the air around me. I cling to the truth that I know – even if it is only in my head right now: that He is real even when I can’t see Him. He is speaking even when I can’t hear Him. He is with me, in me, covering me, even when I can’t feel Him.
And as I fall asleep, I believe, I trust, I rest in the arms of the God of the universe, who finds me, who never loses me, who holds me even when – especially when – I have no more strength to hold on.
“This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held”