I have this little habit when it comes to God and I. Truth be told, it’s not such a good one. You could label it stubbornness or avoidance. In my mind I see it as hiding in a corner, turning my face away from His and pouting/or telling Him and the world that I’m fine. Yeah, told you it wasn’t smart. Funny thing is, as silly as it sounds, I find myself there most days. Some days longer than others. I sit on the couch reading, afternoon sun streaming through the window onto my book when my phone vibrates with an incoming FaceTime call. I answer and I ask questions… gently seeking to draw out my friend in the hope of reaching the root of the discouragement I see in her eyes. I tug at the walls but they don’t come down and I find myself at a loss for words. We hang up and I find myself sitting on my bed asking myself if I really did make Jesus any clearer and how I’m supposed to paint His face when all her eyes can see is a blur? I ask myself how I can steer a heart to look into the eyes of Jesus when all it wants to do is hide from Him? Spring beckons outside so I slip on my flip flops and head out the door and there’s this gentle whisper I’ve heard so many times. Kiddo, you ask how to encourage another heart to talk to me, but aren’t you still hiding in your corner? Haven’t you been avoiding me the last few days? I slow my pace because He’s right and I know it. I’ve been here before. A thousand times it seems, no exxageration. I don’t have words for Him either. Because yeah, this little corner of mine has become much overused of late and I know it. Life can get loud sometimes with all the voices of other’s opinions and instead of running to Him and telling Him, I stuff them all in my heart and go sit in my corner to brood. I rehearse every opinion and stress over who I will hurt if I listen to this one instead of that and before I know it, I’m all caught up in my own little frenzy, with my face to the wall. And some days it’s not other’s opinions but circumstances that hurt or frustrate me and again, I stuff them all inside and go find my dark little corner to hide in until I’m ready to face the world again. That said, it’s not always gloomy. Sometimes my corner has the illusion of being bright as day. I push all my little problems to the side, ignore the conversations I need to have with God, and live to get the approval of people. And sometimes in brutal honesty I’m kind of pleased with how well I make it work. Deep down I know there are still things I need to face, but it’s easier to run and hide in the corner and think everything is just fine than to let down the walls and face what Jesus wants to talk to me about. I might do it different to you, but truth is, we all build corners— places we try to hide from any eye contact or heart communion with Jesus. We fill up our corners with Instagram, tv shows, to-do lists, food, addictions, and any and every other distraction we can think of. Distraction makes it easier to stay there without even realizing what we’re doing. Today though, I pause and sit down by the little pond in the meadow the melting snow has produced and let His words sink in. I remember the questions I asked Him as I fell asleep the other night and my confusion about who He was, and the truth strikes me hard… I've complained to God that I’m not sure who He is and I’m don’t know what He wants me to do, meanwhile I sit in my corner with my eyes and ears closed to any word from Him. I look at my Bible on my desk but I don’t open it, for any number of illegitimate reasons. It sounds incredibly stubborn and foolish and it is, but in the moment we don’t see that. We don’t normally set out to plug our ears and then complain at God for not talking. We don’t mean to ignore all the beautiful things He’s written to us, but for some reason or other, we do. What if God would rather us hash out our anger and confusion with Him than stuff it down in complacency? What if He isn’t so bothered by our arguing as by our stubborn silence? What if He’d rather take the brunt of our frustration than stand by helplessly as we completely ignore Him? I walk back along our little road and I compare my silence with Him over the last few days to the time a few weeks ago where He and I hashed out my issues for hours. My bro and I were at a series of meetings he was filming and since I was just driving him there, I had plenty of time for quiet conversations with Jesus as I listened to the sermons and talked them over with Him in the car afterward. Every morning and evening I’d slip upstairs to the balcony in the church and find a quiet pew where I could listen while asking Jesus a thousand questions in my head. I’d be lying if I said those conversations were all surrendered sweetness on my part. They weren’t. I asked Him the same questions over and over and sometimes I argued with His answers. But I was honest. I told Him what I didn’t understand. I asked His thoughts and I opened up to Him about my anger and frustration when what He said bothered me. There was no hiding. No pretending. I told Him everything in my heart and we kept talking until I understood Him and let Him soften my heart and shape it to fit with His. Those days didn’t feel so beautiful in the moment. It felt like I’d never understand or believe Him and that all my stubborn heart could do was argue. But in hindsight, I wouldn’t trade that weekend for the world. He spoke truth to me in sermon after sermon and I brought frustrated question after question to Him and He gently answered every one until He’d changed my heart. On the drive there I argued with Him for hours, but His gentle reasoning won and on the way home we talked for hours again, but this time with our hearts in sync. I think back to Jacob and his night of wrestling with God and the closeness he experienced with God after that day. Something was different in his heart after he fought with God. He was softer. More in sync with the heart of his king. He understood God in a way he never had before and the intimacy he shared with him was deeper than any previous time in his life. Even his very name changed as a result of that night of wrestling. I sense the same thing every time I persist in talking through hard things with God and let Him change me. Yeah, I may argue. I may wrestle to understand Him and His heart, but as I open up and let Him reach the depths of me and get His truth into the parts of me that need it most, I love Him more. I understand Him more. And when we finish talking there is an intimacy there that never existed before I faced the hard truth. I’m not advocating that we get mad at God, but truth be known, sometimes our selfish hearts are mad at Him and then we have a choice. Close down our hearts and find a corner, or open it up and spill all it’s mess in front of Him so He can fix it. Far too often I find myself waiting in my corner until my attitude is better and thinking that then I will go to God, but the reality is, my attitude doesn’t get any better till I go. We might succeed in stuffing our struggle down and appearing to have it together, but what if God is all about seeing it in it’s rawness and healing us there? The last few mornings I’ve popped my earbuds in as I make breakfast and listened to Psalms and I have been so struck by the raw honesty David had with God. Yeah, he argued with God. He blamed God. He vented at God. But when he took his brokenness and selfishness and laid it bare, he was changed. Sometimes our corners don’t just consist of ignoring God but of coming to Him while stuffing our hearts so far down inside that we are as cold and calculated as if we’re spinning a business transaction. It appears more holy than ignoring Him because we’re actually praying, but in reality we are just as self-reliant as when we sit in the dark and won’t look Him in the eye. The thing is, these corners are even more subtle and dangerous because we can live our whole lives there and never be criticized for a lack of spirituality. We may successfully convince the world that we have an incredible relationship with God while in reality we have never once caught His eye… never once opened the depths of our heart to His touch. I dare say that we would be a million times better off if our prayers today had more wrestling and rawness and less of our self-satisfied piety. Because honestly, how much do we change when we come to God as if we have it all together and give Him our list of things for Him to do? Wouldn’t we be better off coming to Him and opening up our whole messy heart and letting Him see it all, even the ugly? I walk the last bit of the road before our house and the sun dims as dusk brushes the tree tops and I know it in my bones… I gain nothing when I hide from Jesus. No corner I create, no matter how sophisticated it may appear is worth a second of the precious time He’s given me. It might be easier. It might feel less painful and vulnerable. It might even seem more self-controlled and cheerful. To a casual observer it may seem more put together and religious. But while hiding, I miss the deep intimacy that comes from sharing the depths of me— even the angry ones— with Jesus. I miss the profound understanding that comes when I’ve wrestled with God and come to see as He sees. I miss growth, the peace, and the unity with His heart that come when I let Him into every stubborn piece of mine. I pause and I understand now why I had no words on my FaceTime call earlier that afternoon. I’d been running too. I’d been building my own walls while attempting to pull down the walls of others. I couldn’t point definitively in the right direction because my face had been pointed away from His gaze, my Bible had sat unread on my desk and my heart had been buried while I distracted myself in my corner. You see, we’re not the only ones who miss out when we resist the wrestling process with Jesus. We rob Him of the communion He wants with our hearts and we rob the world of the insight and power of the gospel because it is not being lived out in our own lives. The truth hits me hard and I turn into our driveway with my face set. It might feel harder right now, but Jesus and I have some talking to do. And yeah, I might argue. I might wrestle. But He’s strong and He will win me with His gentleness and take every confused piece of my heart and put it back together the way He created it to be. I turn my eyes away from my corner and they catch His. And these moments? These are the ones where He entwines His heart so closely around our own that even when our frustration rises and we run to our corner we miss the harmony of our heart beating with His. He draws me out beyond myself again and again and slowly He softens me so that I crave more of this oneness. Even if it hurts. Even if we have to wrestle all the long night. Because morning always dawns and the reward of our hearts beating in sync more deeply than ever before is worth every ache of the night.