What feels so foreign is that we little know how to do life without all our “stuff” and good moods protecting us from the aloneness of just God and ourselves.
“Why are you doing this to me?” we plead with God, and, often, get no reply. We mourn, “I liked the happy vibes I had in the tiny kingdom I made where I was the ruler.”
We forget that this world we’ve lived in was awful - full of sin - praticed openly and in secret - some known and some unknown. And it was destroying us. But we don’t remember that (or never even perceived it was awful, but God knew).
Our lament sounds just like the Israelites after they’d departed the brutal slavemasters of Egypt and wandered in the desert:
Numbers 14:1-4 - All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! …Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
And yet - somehow, in our grumbling and in the silence, we hear a gentle whisper, barely there: “I’m doing this because I love you. Because you need to know me and you’ve forsaken me in too many ways. So I’m calling you back out of the land you’ve been living in. You’re a fair distance away right now. To be gathered back to me, you must pass through the Wilderness where there is unrelenting desolation and fierce animals who want to consume you. But do not fear. You feel alone. You’re not. You just don’t know what my presence is. It’s very subtle. But it’s right here. I will teach you. And you need to know something else”:
Isaiah 43:2-3 - When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
How did Moses and Aaron respond to the Israelites’ complaint? They didn’t find grave fault with their honesty - just as Jesus didn’t with John. They “fell on their faces before all the assembly” and begged them not to stop acknoledging God and giving thanks to him. They begged them not to fall into the mechanism that hardens hearts:
Numbers 14:9 (NIV) - “Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
As we sojourn through the desert of deconstruction, the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid. Do not fear. On our own, it’s terrifying. Our #1 aim should be to find him. Answers will come in time. From the start, we only need him.
God allows the trial. God brings deliverance from the trial. He shows us mercy! He judges us while we yet live and gives us another chance to see him overcome all the rubbish and broken ways in which we live our lives - all the things we long to be free from but can’t shake.
The highway to that vitality leads down roads with heavy tolls and fees. And, so, may we say directly to God from our hearts, when despairing because of deconstruction:
Psalm 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.