So last week I wrote that God was talking to me, going before me and guiding me. But what I realized is that I haven’t shared much of that movement. I’m here today to start filling in the gaps.
Last May I read the book, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I really enjoyed it, but for some spontaneous reason last week, I got the feeling that I never really finished reading it and I should do so now. I flipped the book open near the end and landed in chapter 14 – Verbs and other Freedoms. The subtitle of this chapter is, “God is a Verb.” He started moving.
The main character, Mack, is conversing with God and asking questions such as, “How come I am not able to tell when you’re around?” God answers, “For you to know or not has nothing at all to do with whether I am actually here or not….You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours…you will better begin to recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship” (p196). These are the words I needed to hear. He was talking to me. He was talking to me.
A few pages later, Mack asks another question. “Why do you love me, when I have nothing to offer you?” (p200). And here comes the beginning of “God is a Verb.”
“It should be very freeing to know that you can offer us (the Triune God) nothing, at least not anything that can add or take away from who we are…That should alleviate any pressure to perform.”
This conversation pursues Mack’s concern over what God expects of him after his encounter with God in the The Shack is over, and God rebukes Mack with these words, “when I hear language abused in favor of rules over sharing life with us, it is difficult for me to remain silent.” The abuse was the word ‘expectations.’ Mack was being admonished because he was looking for rules to live by ( God’s expectations) and not reveling in the freedom of living in Christ. God continues…
“Those who are afraid of freedom are those who cannot trust us to live in them. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control.”
Trust. There it was again. My trust issues (even with God) were being exposed as issues of false expectations and the desire to follow rules. In the margin of the book I wrote, “kind of like social expectations and my need for an orderly house.”
The conversation continued. “Enforcing rules, especially in its more subtle expression like responsibility and expectation, are a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty….I will take a verb over a noun anytime.”
Huh? What do verbs and nouns have to do with all of this? Well, if you look at the word expectation (a noun) and turn it into a verb it becomes expectancy. If you look at responsibility (a noun) and turn it into a verb, it becomes to respond. God is a verb. He is, He was, and He always will be. God is the great I AM. Nouns, on the other hand, “exist because there is a created universe and physical reality, but if the universe is only a mass of nouns, it is dead. Unless I AM [really is], there are no verbs, and verbs are what makes the universe alive” (p204).
God is asking me to live by expectancy (the verb) and not live by striving to meet expectations (the noun). He is asking me to respond to His love; to live in freedom (to live under grace). He is not asking me to live under the yoke of responsibility (the law…which sometimes I even expand upon and create new laws in my own house!). Can I live in that kind of freedom? Can I trust Him to go before me, and to guide me in expectancy and response? Can I trust Him to go before me and guide me in removing this protective ‘steel door’ mask that I’ve been hiding under for so many years? I have to. For “the degree that [I] resort to expectations and responsibilities, to that degree [I] neither know [God] or trust [Him]. And to that degree…[I] live in fear.” (p206). I don’t want to live in fear. I want to trust. Lord help me trust.