I hadn’t seen it before, the way I’d been leaving Him there, waiting.
Ironically, I thought I was the one waiting on Him and He the one delaying in answer.
Then it dawned on me.
I’d lost capacity.
And He was waiting, with kindest eyes, until I prepared Him room again.
And the tears came — hot with the heartache of friendship — for nothing hurts like hurting the one you love. Here I was thinking I was waiting on Him, and in some kind of divine delay, while all the while, He was searching and knowing the deep things in me, and waiting for me to forge Him space (Jas. 4:5).
We Have Limited Capacity
I overestimate my capacity. We all do. For contrary to our bent, it takes humility to know our limitations. Busyness, the cares of life, the frittering away of time and thoughts and attentions – all cost us, and all at the expense of our interior space, made for God, and more limited than we grasp. For though we were made with endless boundaries to know love and communion with God, we were never fashioned to do more than one thing with our affections.
We cannot have both. We cannot have busyness and the cares of this life and frittered attentions, and also the Lord. We cannot have our eyes and ears reaching out in a thousand different directions and simultaneously behold and hear the Lord. Seeing Him and hearing His voice comes at a cost. We make room and make time and set aside other things, all that we might gain more of Him. Without this intentional pressing against our propensity towards dullness, dullness wins.
Dullness, that slow-killer of passion, can move in without invitation and takeover without warning. And we wake up some time later, assuming God is silent, when we’ve simply been immersed in so much noise, we’ve lost our ability to hear.
We assume we can handle so much. We think we can take so much in, and still have room for the Lord. Yet we forget our limitation. Our soul is not a multipurpose room — it is made for God.
Whatever it is that we give our time to, our attentions to, our thoughts to, this is what fills up our interior space and chips away at our capacity, little by little.
And in our day, in all of our record-breaking potential to communicate, to give and take in information, we cannot forget that we are small. Our hearts are small. Our minds are small. Our souls can only hold so much.We need inward space for Jesus, now more than ever. It may be the easiest time in history to have our voices be heard, yet perhaps the hardest time to silence all the noise, and hear the one Voice that truly matters.
And either we will guard our inward space with fervency, covering our eyes and ears and mouths to make room for Him, or we will fill that capacity with a thousand things — even neutral, harmless things — regrettably turning our Lord, our closest Friend, away.
Where He Finds Capacity, He Comes
It’s about capacity, this exchange we have with the Lord. Our hunger for His filling. Our thirst for His quenching. It’s the hungry He gives Himself to, always.
The truth is, He never forsakes the sacred space of hunger. It’s His holy carved out place. He actually delights to satisfy it wherever He finds it.
And here is where much of the misunderstanding (my misunderstanding) lies. Many times, maybe most times, He does not find that hunger. He does not find that space, carved out. Rather, He finds us filled with other things, busied by all the activities, and generally content without much more of Him. And there He waits.
A.W. Tozer said,
“He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.”
We assume we’ve hungered after Him, prayed prayers and sought Him deeply, and He has not responded. And though there are real times that the Lord delays in answering us – times when He is deepening that capacity in us so that He can answer it more deeply with Himself – there are also times when we fool ourselves with our hungry words, while simultaneously filling our capacity with other things.
There are stand-ins for true hunger. There are masquerades for true affection. In our prayers, we use words of longing as substitutes for the real thing, crying out: “Oh God I want more of You!” And we can betray ourselves into imagining that we’ve hungered and He hasn’t answered us, when the truth is, He is waiting for us to hunger after Him at the heart-level.
He’s not after pining words but pining souls. He is not looking for grandiose prayers but generous inward space.
In the times that we lift our prayers of hunger to the Lord and feel that He is far, let’s pause and ask Him if perhaps it’s Him who is doing the waiting, not us. Let’s assume the humble posture of recognizing our limited capacity and our propensity for filling it with other things. And where He shows us our duplicity, let’s return to Him — the beloved of our souls — with all our hearts (Jas. 4:6, 10).
He is far more ready and eager to draw near to us than we realize. And we can rest confident here. He never forsakes the sacred space of hunger. When we draw near to Him and prepare Him room, He comes (Matt. 5:6; Jas. 4:8).