I’m having an incredible time at a worship conference in Maryland this week. One of the speakers really impressed me with his honesty when he confessed before he spoke that he was feeling spiritually dry, and it struck me that giving his talk anyway was a remarkable act of faith.
While I’m away, I want to share with you this post from last June as a reminder that no matter what we feel, God remains, and He remains worthy of praise.
There is a church I drive by six times a week as I take my children back and forth to their team practices. For the last week or so, the marquee out front has declared, “God is the joy in you,” and for the last week or so, if I gave it any thought at all, it was a passing thought of the “Oh, that’s a nice idea” variety. But the last day I drove by it, I didn’t feel that it was all that nice. In fact, I felt pretty severely pissed about the whole thing.
The last day I drove by it, I was downward spiraling. I was sulky, and grumpy, and borderline depressed. There was no joy in me. And if you follow the logic of that sign’s proclamation, that means there was no God in me either. In fact, if you follow its logic– if God is the joy in you– then when my joy was gone, so was God. He was snuffed into nonexistence by my fickle emotions.
And I cannot help but feel angry at a church suggesting that kind of “truth.” A gospel that offers God only to the joyful is a gospel of waste. I need a gospel that gives me God when I am at my worst and most joyless. I do not need a God whose existence is predicated upon my feelings or state of mind. I need a God who exists no matter what– no matter me.
So I’m thankful– joyful, even– that this kind of God I need is the kind of God I have. Psalm 139 tells me that there’s nowhere I can go to get away from Him; that I can bury myself under the covers and nestle down into my own darkest hell, and still He will be there.
God doesn’t call Himself, “I AM When You’re Happy.” He calls himself simply, “I AM.” When I think about what that means, I realize how huge those two little words are. “I am” means, “I exist, I remain, I’m here.” And this is such a relief for a mess like me because it means that as up and down as I can be, He is constant. When there is joy in me, He is I AM. When I am beside myself and totally out of love with Him, He is I AM. No matter what, no matter me, He is I AM. And that is joy.