When God Steps Back - What does this mean?
I subscribe to a rather neat newsletter, Friends of the Little Portion Hermitage. I like reading these so much, I save each one. Today’s title caught my eye and it gave me pause when I read it. ‘The Discipline of Darkness.’...
Today’s title caught my eye and it gave me pause when I read it. ‘The Discipline of Darkness.’ Today’s was a statement by Oswald Chambers:
“At times God puts us through the discipline of darkness to teach us to heed Him. Songbirds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him.… Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God?… When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.” ~Oswald Chambers
Hm. I wonder… Show of hands, Readers, have any of you ever considered darkness to be discipline? Or have you sat back and questioned, ‘Why is this happening, why does God feel so distant?’
For me, personally, I’ve felt the disconnect. I’ve questioned it, I’ve never given myself a chance to see it for what it was: my necessity for God in my life, because without Him, I’m not able to do anything.
St Paul mentions this on more than one occasion in his letters throughout the New Testament, that we are solely dependent on God for all of our needs. Sometimes, we get a little comfortable and we tend to take God for granted. We tend to just figure, ‘Eh. It’s all in the bag.’ But, what we fail to remember is sometimes God steps back to show us that we’re becoming complacent. Lazy. He does this to remind us, ‘Hey, you’re not left to do this on your own, you know...’
Nothing on this earth in this life happens unless God sends or permits it, I promise you, but we need to remember it’s for not only our sanctification but for our growth in our faith and our walk with Him. Almost like a gentle nudge, ‘Hey, I want to sit down with you. I want to talk with you, I want that relationship with you. You say we’re friends, you tell Me and others that you love Me, but what you aren’t doing is showing Me. You aren’t including Me in your day-to-day life. You only reach out to Me when you need something. What about when things are going well? I do that for you, too, and you don’t say a quick “Thank You!” You just go blithely about your day. I miss you. I want to be with you. I didn’t come to you just to hang out for a little while and then leave. If you and I are friends, let’s commune as friends do.’
Honestly, the idea of God stepping back is scary, let’s not deny this. Let’s not shy away from this. If you think about this in terms of when a human parent is teaching a child something new, it’s in a real way no different. When we’re teaching our children to walk, we set them down and let them come to us, encouraging them the whole time, ‘I’m right here, come on! Come over here, it’s okay!’ But the child tends to feel like, ‘Wait a minute… You’re not coming to me!? You’re not coming to pick me up?! What kind of rotten deal is this?! I don’t like this!’ and they fall over and sit on the floor, and cry. My great-nephew, at the time of this writing, is on the cusp of his first birthday. He’s learning to walk, and he’s getting pretty good, but he gets panicky and plops to the floor on his little tush. When he sees that the grown-up – whether it’s his parents or myself – is in the room but not coming to him to ‘rescue’ him, he gets cranky and makes his thoughts on this abundantly – and loudly – clear: he doesn’t appreciate it that no one’s picking him up.
It’s honestly the same with our own growth with God. God sets us down and He takes a few steps back and encourages us to come to Him. We don’t like this and we, not unlike a small child learning to walk, have a rather vocal protest about this change of events. God, in His infinite love and patience, won’t leave us, but He’s not going to allow us to leave us to just stay and stew in our tantrum, either. He’s there to encourage us, to help us out, sure, but I promise you He will not do the work for us. He is there to help us grow and learn, but He is also going to step back and let us come to Him. As any Parent/Child relationship as we, human beings, do with our own children.
Growth absolutely can’t happen in a healthy way if we are ‘Helicopter Parents’ with our children, and it’s no different with God. God isn’t a ‘Helicopter Dad,’ He loves us so much, He’s willing to meet us where we are, sure, but He is not going to let us stay there, either. He’s there, He’s absolutely willing to step back and let us come to Him.