Do you ever have times when it seems like God is so distant, you start to wonder if He even hears your prayers? Well, you’re not alone. Even the great saint Mother Teresa went through long spells where she could not sense the presence of God. I don’t think she ever thought God had abandoned her, but she did wonder why God moved out of state and did not leave a forwarding address nor His new phone number. (OK, I’m pretty sure Mother Teresa didn’t phrase it that way, but you know what I mean.)
Personally, when my faith life is weak and it feels like God is a million miles away, I long for a “burning bush” moment. Remember in the Bible, how God appeared to Moses? There was a bush engulfed in flames, but it was not consumed by the fire, and God spoke to Moses out loud.
Oh boy, if that ever happened to me, my faith life would be energized. I immediately would do three things: 1. drop to my knees in worship; 2. vow to live the Gospel and spread the Good News to everyone I know; and 3. toss my shorts into the washing machine. (I mean, think about it, if God appears in a burning bush and speaks out loud, there is going to be an accident.)
If not a burning bush moment, then I’d like to have a “Joseph’s dream” moment. You remember Joseph’s dream, right? When he found out his fiancée Mary was pregnant, and he knew he wasn’t the father, he decided to leave her. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to him while he slept. And this was no ordinary weird dream, like after you eat too much Mexican food. Joseph knew the difference between a mere weird dream and this miraculous event. (Afterward, just to be safe, Joseph never again ate at Mexican restaurants.)
During the dream, the angel’s appearance to Joseph was vivid and real. The angel told him things he never could have known, and gave him clear instructions to take Mary as his wife. When Joseph woke up, he didn’t say to himself, “Wow, that was weird, and I didn’t even eat anything spicy yesterday.” No, he said, “Wow, that was real! I must immediately take Mary as my wife. But first I have to toss my shorts in the washing machine because, um, that was also rather terrifying.”
In God’s infinite wisdom, He only occasionally reveals Himself to people in dramatic and spectacular ways, such as with Moses and Joseph. For the rest of us, God reveals Himself in much more subtle and quiet ways. Some of these ways include the laughter of a child, the smile and gentle touch of a spouse, the beauty of a sunset, the sublime wisdom in the pages of Scripture, and the peaceful joy that envelops us when we kneel in front of the tabernacle and bask in the knowledge that the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus is present there.
Admittedly, in our day-to-day struggles, we have times when these subtle manifestations of God don’t touch us. We don’t see Him, we don’t sense Him, and we start to wonder if He’s really there. That’s when we get those desires to experience a burning bush moment.
However, we have to keep something in mind. When God reveals Himself in spectacular ways to select people, He does it to call them to undertake a very important, and usually very burdensome, mission. So we can be thankful He reveals Himself to us in quiet and subtle ways. Don’t forget that old expression: “Be careful what you wish for.”