I sit down to spend time with God after a whirlwind of emotional days. My head hangs low. I am ashamed. External pressures have pressed my connection with God out the door. I let it happen. Here I am, daring to return to Him. Shame does not want me to not return to God yet. It wants me to suffer for longer from a distance, somehow convincing me that vulnerability with God is too much work and I will likely be rejected by Him, so I might as well just reject myself. In reality, shame has an agenda for me that I never return to God. Distance, more distance, and then divorce … is what partnership with shame wants to lead me to in relation to God.
As I stare at the wet ground wondering if I should lift my chin to my Maker, I hear the Holy Spirit, Why are you wasting time? I just want to be with you.
At the sound of His voice, I am thrust back into a memory of when I learned this truth inwardly for the first time. I was directing the Jesus Theater at a Salvation Army Camp. The building we were in was moist, its’ wooden floors creaked with risk. The unsealed windows held history of being framed witnesses to divine workings over the years. A cast of twelve stood before me in a space taped out on the floor. Together we were journeying through the story of Christ, and finding ourselves alive within it.
We came to the moment during the crucifixion scene where the Father turns His face away from His Son, Jesus. I stopped directing and stood in resolved resistance. I could not place the scene, because I hated that moment. It felt to me like a confirmation of my worst fear, that the Father would turn His face away from me, that in fact He already had. I grimaced and stared at the cast. They knew from working with me for days that something was transpiring inside. We would wait for the Holy Spirit to have the next word. I found myself facing a large internal mountain that I hoped I would never have to face head on. Head on. Here I was. It was that moment in my life when I had no idea where the Father was and the worst thing that could happen – happened – to me.
My cast and I stood for a long time awkwardly, like we do, committed to authenticity before anyone makes another move. No one can tell a story effectively that he/she does not believe from the heart, thus the reason why so many messages fall lifeless and flat upon delivery. We would wait and find a way to engage our hearts, that’s how we work.
I stood and stared at my actors.
They stared back at me, waiting.
I looked them in the eyes.
They looked me in the eyes.
We began to drill down together.
Daring to face that moment.
Each – our own.
Our own moment when He felt absent.
We said nothing.
We waited for longer.
I physically stepped back and looked at the half-created scene of bodies waiting for direction.
What is this moment, God?
As clear as I bell I heard the Holy Spirit speak. His response sunk into my spirit and has served as a compass for me ever since. He spoke to me, Jesus took rejection from the Father so that you would never have to experience it. The Father’s face is always towards you. Come home.
Friends, we all are like “sheep that have gone astray” and do not deserve the Father’s acceptance. But in that rehearsal, I finally understood that Jesus took rejection from the Father that we deserved so that you and I could have the bliss of living with confidence in the Father’s love. The Father’s face is always towards us in acceptance. What a gift! You and I dismiss the sacrifice of Jesus when we insist that we need to be punished by shame before returning to God.
So … why are you wasting time? He just wants to be with you.
Reflection Question: When is the last time that you honestly faced God with a wide open heart? Can you return to that place with Him? Bend a knee. Lift your weary head. It's time to see His face again, and Him yours.
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.