“When can you call on God?” we asked the young people in our confirmation class.
There was silence, and then a hesitant, “Anytime. He’s always there.”
“Yes!” my co-teacher said enthusiastically, “He’s an anytime, anywhere God.”
Other people might celebrate where this class discussion ended. And so might I, if this were a class of young children, but with a group of 8th graders, this response left me concerned. Yes, it was the “right” answer, the one she’d been taught in Sunday school, even the one that scripture offers, “I am with you always to the end of the age.” What had me worried was …when do we get around to doing what can be done anytime?
I know I respond best to deadlines and urgency. I belly up to the project that looms largest, the problem that screams loudest, or the news just in. The things that sit quietly – the ones that can be done anytime – tend to scroll down in my inbox. They can wait until I have more time or more energy. Often, they just get forgotten.
I wonder if this will be so for these young people and the God that is available to them 24-7. In their world where everything comes at them fast and demands an immediate answer, I worry that the God who is “there whenever we need Him” may be relegated to the “get to later” category. Then, when they are faced with a crisis, a real need, a tragedy – the stuff that intercedes in all our lives – will they recognize the God who is there with them?
God hasn’t set a deadline for us. He seems to tell us, come to Me in your own time. But I would so like these young people to invite Him in ahead of time, before they “need” Him. Into the deadlines and the urgency and the breaking news. Self-sufficiency is a good thing, but it shouldn’t be a lonely thing. God powered self-sufficiency…now that sounds like a dynamic conversation.
How do we move God from anytime to first thing?