Go Away, Lord!
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
And [Adam] said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)
Here’s the truth. There have been times in my life when I’ve wanted God to just go away. Now, don’t act shocked. I’m no different than Peter … or Isaiah before him … or Adam and Eve before him. Like all of those God-dodgers, I’ve been exposed, naked before my Creator, and I don’t like it.
The reason why is simple: being exposed means seeing my dirt. I look down and suddenly God’s showing me what I really look like. There’s narcissism splattered on my chest, little white lies running down my arms, and impurity gunking up my legs. I’m tangled and tattered, twisted and torn. And all of this because God’s pure awesomeness shines right through the things I’ve put up to cover all that.
He’s not fooled.
So, I do exactly what most of us do … if we’re honest with ourselves. Instead of asking Him to draw closer and peel off the layers of grime, I try to block out the light and withdraw. You see, that whole draw-close-to-me-and-I’ll-draw-close-to-you thing works. Maybe it works too well. Because when it works, God does more than just hang out. He points out. He speaks out. He makes us miserable about the sin we hide or ignore.
It’s no wonder Isaiah cried out in anguish when He saw God and God saw him. His filthy mouth couldn’t be ignored anymore. And it’s no wonder Peter asked Jesus to go away. His lifestyle could no longer be justified with deity in his boat. And Adam and Eve? Well, they had nothing left to hide behind. They knew they were caught.
I love that the Bible doesn’t try to prettify these flawed people. God’s Word lays it out there with all the grit and grime intact. I love that because it makes Scripture seem immediate, in my face. I can’t pretend that my flaws are nothing to worry about when God makes sure I see theirs. In all their cowardly glory. Just like mine.
So, what’s God’s response to all this … to my hiding, to my wanting Him to go away? Really, it boils down to this: “Get some courage, man; I’ve got work for you to do.” Or, if you want to be technical, here’s what Jesus said to the cowering Peter: “Don't be afraid; from now on you’ll catch men.”
I’m flawed; I’m fickle. Sometimes, I just want God to leave me alone to wallow in my filth. But He’s not so easily put off. Just like with Peter, He stands me up and sends me on my way. My humanness doesn’t keep Him from using me to share His good news—scars, bruises, and all. Even if sometimes I’d rather He not shine so much light on them.
Intersecting Faith and Life
It’s always easier to tell the Lord to back off or to push Him away than to let His grace break us. And, make no mistake, that’s really what we need. We need to see ourselves like He sees us, to be overwhelmed by the holiness of it all. It’s then that we end up face down in the dirt in the sight of a perfect and perfecting God.
It’s then that He begins the painful, lifelong process of getting us where we need to be.