A few years ago we were praying with a friend of mine who was troubled. He had gone through a hard time in his life. The pain of divorce and layoffs left him feeling far from God.
I didn't have any answers for him, though it was tempting to try to give him the thin gruel of trite encouragement that such moments always seem to prompt: "It's OK, things are going to get better. You'll see better days, yada, yada."
Actually it was better to just ask God a question, say nothing more, and wait for him to speak. One of the things I believe, based on my experience and subsequent search of Scripture, is that God speaks to us in ways that connect with us at a deep level. In ways that when we're needy, can explode in our soul and re-awaken us to the fact that he loves us.
So, my friend asked God, "Lord, is there anything you'd like to say to me?" And we sat there in silence, waiting for what he might say.
It was a bold, potentially reckless thing to do. What if God didn't show up? What if all we heard was silence? What if the cynics were right?
The cynics had been the only voice my friend had listened to for quite a while – they had had their say. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. So, we hoped and waited.
And as we waited, my friend began to cry. We let the moment linger and then I spoke.
"What did he say?"
"He said, "I've missed you."
And that was all he needed to say. It said everything.
It said, "I created you to be in relationship with me."
It said, "Where have you been?"
It said, "I love you."
Isn't that the cry of all of our hearts? Don't you long to hear that from the Almighty? We go wandering in dry and lonely deserts, thirsting for living water, and when we finally grow sick enough of the wandering to wait on God, his tender voice overwhelms us.
If you feel like my friend (and who doesn't from time to time), my counsel is, take the time to go to some quiet place* – maybe a forest, maybe a closet – and ask him if he has anything to say. Maybe ask him the question, "Lord, what do you think about me?"
I'm betting that he's missed you and you'll find him waiting for you there.
*Take a Bible and a journal and maybe a list of questions.