The past month has been, for me, packed full of goodness: family, laughter, beauty, relationship, memories, joy. Firwood cottage opened her arms to embrace people I love: her cozy guest room in constant use, the kitchen a gathering place for ongoing conversation.
Yet one morning, right in the midst of wedding week fun, I made my way out to my tiny refuge in the backyard, that “shed” I claim as my own, and wondered why I hadn’t heard so much as a whisper from God in all the raucous clamor of celebration.
Why are You silent, Lord? Why can’t I hear?
And slowly, imperceptibly at first, I heard hints. I sensed the Spirit stirring me to lean in, to listen, to pay attention.
Opening my bible, I curled up in my big cushy chair, pen in hand, journal in my lap. I settled in to wait.
What would He say? Something encouraging and lovely? Quotable and profound?
No. Just this:
Though the LORD is great,
He cares for the humble,
but He keeps His distance from the proud.
He keeps His distance from the proud. Me? Are You talking about me, Lord?
And I knew before I asked that yes, my pride had pushed Him away. The distance I had suddenly sensed that morning had been growing for days, for weeks. Unrecognized, unrepented pride had worked its weasely way into my soul and now I felt the loneliness of that distance I had created.
My pride propels me into loneliness, pushing God aside, pushing my self forward until all I am is me.
And I hear Him speak, this time so fast I can hardly keep up while I write it down. He wants me back, tucked in close, reveling in the intimacy of connection, enjoying this time of my life with Him.
He knows I hadn’t noticed the emptiness of that place only He can fill. But I notice now and He fills me fast, He fills me full, I am bursting with the richness, all those aching places soothed.
But I don’t want to go there again. Because I didn’t mean to, didn’t even know I was wandering in that direction. Somehow I drove off on the wrong road and ended up with only a hint of God in my rearview mirror. What did I miss?
As I ask Him, a list forms in my head and my pen scrambles on the page to get it down. Too much for one post, I’ll give the first four here:
Subtle Signs When Pride Is Distancing Me From God:
When instead of praying about everything, I blunder through my days “accomplishing what concerns me”. I do it because it needs doing. My list leads.
I can do this. I can work harder and longer and better. I can get it all done!
That is pride disguised in the rigid uniform of work.
When my achievements define my value; when I am what I do or I am what I have done or I am what people think I am.
When my value is caught up in my ability to do, that is pride.
This is the reverse: When my failure defines me and I think I am merely the sum total of everything wrong with me. That is pride. It is making too much of my efforts, measly though they are, and making too little of God in me.
When life goes bad and I get mad because I think I deserve better.
No, it is not okay to get angry with God! Who do I think I am? When I think I deserve more, deserve to be shielded from ugliness, deserve to be blessed just because I’ve been good, that is pride.
My list keeps growing, a living breathing knowing that this distance is my own doing. But there is joy in this knowing- because He welcomes me back, delights in my turning, soothes the rawness of my repentance. He doesn’t want to stand away from me. My Redeemer died to bring me close… to bridge that yawning fissure my pride opened between me and the One who made me for Himself.
I’ll be back with more to chew on next week.
From my heart,
P.S. Do you have a list of your own? Have you seen the subtle signs that keep you distant from God and wondering why? Let us learn from your stories, its so much better than failing in our own.