Why is it always at night? The thoughts. The doubts. The meandering mind. The what if’s and might be’s.
That’s where I found myself recently after a call in the middle of the night from my daughter. The babies were coming seven weeks early. She was in Colorado feeling scared. I was on the last day of vacation in Florida feeling helpless.
I felt my way out to the couch of the hotel room not wanting to wake anyone else. I couldn’t sleep and needed to pray. And I did…for the babies and the team who would deliver these sweet sugars. For Mackenzie and James.
Then like the ocean I watched just that morning, the waves of doubt drowned out even a mustard seed of faith. I started asking God questions, expecting answers like he was the dice in a Magic Eight ball…
What if this thing goes sideways? Surely you won’t let it after all they’ve been through…
Shake. Shake. Shake.
Cannot predict now.
Are You who You say You are?
Shake. Shake. Shake.
Can I trust You?
Shake. Shake. Shake.
Concentrate and ask again.
And if not, are you still good?
Shake. Shake. Shake it harder.
Reply hazy. Try again.
As if this is who my Father is…a mean spirited, almighty smiter who takes joy in watching His child struggle in the dark of night, in an unfamiliar place, with apprehension and angst.
As if He answers our honest questions with vague replies on a tiny dye floating in purple liquid.
We got the all-is-well call a couple hours later. The girls were small but doing well. Mackenzie was good. The trauma team was excellent. I was so thankful! As the morning progressed, I felt relief, yes, thankful, yes, but also something I hadn’t felt in quite a while…shame.
At my unbelief. At my mistrust. At my faithlessness.
The thing is, I’m far enough along in my faith to know I can bring anything to God…my doubts and fears, worries and concerns, my weariness and wariness, my anger and fits…all of it. He’s a big God with big shoulders.
So why the shame? It caught me off-guard.
God and I are working through that and here’s what He’s showing me. If you’ve ever struggled with doubt or middle of the night brain that doesn’t shut off, I hope it helps you too.
The Wall. A dark and sacred place that reeks of God. His mercy and goodness, yes. But also, His sovereignty over all things, His thoughts that are not like mine, His actions that are not like mine. His goodness. His trustworthiness. His justice. His love.
There’s another odor here at the Wall…the stench of my own middle of the night wonderings. My doubts. My faithlessness. My anger. My fear. My sweat from fight or flight angst.
The Wall is the unmasking of me, my deepest secrets are revealed, fears are brought to the forefront and wounds exposed. I have a choice here at the Wall…burn rubber and get the hell out of there or stay, knowing God is with me in this dark and desolate place.
My doubts, fears, mistrust, angst, worries, wonderings are all welcome here. Those dark nights of the soul are opportunities for God to show up and show you His scars first-hand. It’s the place where we don’t ride the skirt tails of someone else’s faith.
It’s a place that I, like Thomas, need to see Jesus, to experience God for myself. It’s a place of deepening faith as Jesus shows me, not only His wounds but my own…those that hold me back from trusting Him completely.
At the Wall I can ask, are you Who You say You are? I can rest assured when my faith is shaken, He doesn’t answer with a Magic 8 ball response. He invites me to come and see for myself. He doesn’t play the shame game. He shows so I can tell.
A faith that has wrestled with wonderings is welcomed at the Wall. A faith that walks with a limp after a night of grappling is greater than pretending that all is picture perfect. I’d rather smell like sweaty surety than fake faithfulness.
Maybe now is a good time to mention that Christian cliches’ are crap anytime, but especially in the dark of night.
Let go and let God…says the Pleasantville wife whose life is lived in black and white with no room for the colorful life that wondering brings.
God never gives you more than you can handle…ummm, what Bible are you reading? I call a big pile of bull-crap on that one. Raise your hand if you’ve been given more than you can handle at one time or another.
Everything happens for a reason…those words are not helpful to the woman whose doctor said, you have cancer or the parents who are burying their baby, or the man whose wife walked out the door. Maybe there is a bigger picture, a better plan but whatever hard thing you’re going through can suck big time and it’s okay to say that.
And if not, He is still good…don’t we love to take deep spiritual truths, put a pretty filter around them and make them Instagram worthy? Never mind the blood, sweat and tears, poured out, wrestled out and cried out because when the mask is off, it ain’t always pretty.
At the end of the day, yes, He is still good, but I need space to tangle with this truth. Don’t you? I need a place to say, are You? Are you still good? Show me. Show me Your goodness.
Put your picture-perfect smile and your Tammy Faye eyelashes away and sit with me at the Wall. Don’t hold your nose at the stench of my sweaty arm pits as I decide to stay and fight or flee. Don’t make fun of my limp after a night of wrestling with God. And please, I beg of you, put the clichés away. They are not helpful when the night is dark, my mask removed, and Wall is high.
Be a safe space for questions without answers or questions with hard answers. And I’ll be one for you too.
Let’s be like the woman at the well (wall?) who left her water jar and perhaps her shame, ran back to the town and shouted, Come, see a Man who told me everything I ever did! Unmasked, unashamed, sweaty from running (and wrestling?) and excited about God knowing her…the real her.
Don’t be afraid to doubt, to wonder, to wrestle. He will meet you where you are, as you are and welcome you to come and see for yourself.