Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come […] Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:1-3, 8-10)
We sit under the fluorescent lights in a dark basement cafeteria, barely making a dent on our breakfast sandwiches. “I disagree with you, Connie,” he says, “I think God’s love is so much bigger than we could ever imagine. I think he wants to invite more than just the people in the pews at church and those living out ‘good’ lives. Do we put God in a box?” “But He can’t just ignore pervasive sin,” I argue back, “God is a God of both mercy and justice.”
There’s more room.
I feel instantly both affirmation and dismay at the results. Leadership. Wisdom. Pastoral. Those words aren’t a surprise to me, and I’ve seen God do His work through me using each of those giftings. But I still feel torn. Why is it so much harder for a woman use those gifts to serve the body of Christ? Why aren’t we taken as seriously? Why are we relegated to certain roles, when we know God has created us to serve elsewhere? Why are men ‘men’, but women ‘girls’?
There’s more room.
We are slightly wobbly on a plastic paddle boat in the middle of the lake. Breathing in the still, sweet air, we both sigh. We talk about what gives us hope and what satisfies our souls. He says it’s doing more and more good, it’s making a difference, it’s knowing that someone’s life changed because of him. I detect a bit of wistfulness. “For me, God satisfies that gaping hole in my soul,” I say, “but can you once again let Him do that for you?” He looks at me with eyes brimming with pain. “I don’t think I can consider God right now,” he said, reminiscing, “The church has hurt me too much.”
There’s more room!
I forget that I am one of the unlikely ones, one of the people who don’t normally get invited to feasts like the one He threw. I forget the generosity of the Host, who invited me without hesitation – offering me delight and reconciliation and love and purpose. I forget the joy I experienced when I first heard, there’s more room for you, there’s more room for me, there’s more room for all of us!
When I realize the generosity and breadth of His invitation, I become infected with joy and whimsy and delight. I start wanting to get out the pots and pans, banging them together, making noise for whoever will listen – heck, even stand on a crate at the corner of busy streets with a bullhorn – there’s more room for you! there’s more room for me! there’s more room for all of us!
He wants us to live fully, live loved, live invited. There’s more room for you too.
How does one admit that they are distant from God? If they are struggling with perceived silence from God, then what can they do? Do they sit and wait for God to reach out to them first? Does opening the holy book they are struggling to open restart the conversation? Does sitting in the quiet, continuing to pour out words open the doors?
It’s not that I doubt my faith. He is and will remain the centre of my life. It’s that – somehow – in the busyness of life, the experiencing of God stopped. Suddenly, songs that led me to worship Him became just words and notes. Prayers feel ritualized, with a specific formula – adoration, thanksgiving, forgiveness and petition… and not a conversation between a Father and daughter. The head knowledge is there, and I can still talk, read and think about theology, but the relationship is suffering in silence.
Even in silence, I used to write about this journey with God. Writing became very difficult, partially because I didn’t want to own up to this mess going on inside. How do you communicate to others that you’re struggling with God? How do you put the words together to say that you can’t seem to open your Bible or have an authentic conversation with God, especially after months and months of journeying through the land of milk and honey?
I am struggling with this silence, and I’m at a loss. My words are only barely tumbling out as I write this. One thing I do know – He never changes. Though I am struggling, He is constant, forever the same.
He loves me, and that’s all I know today. That’s quite enough for today.