I recently spent some time with a friend whom I had not seen for many years. As we exchanged stories from our past, and the days since, I realized there was something different about him. He was very relaxed and his language was cleaned up to the point I almost didn’t realize it was him. He admittedly was a habitual complainer and not once during our conversation did he use the words “they have it out for me”. Ten or fifteen minutes in the conversation he blurted out that he had become a Christian and then he just stared at me. I don’t know what he expected me to say but before I could say anything, he asked “can’t you tell”. The truth was I sensed there was something different about him and shared as much. I mentioned the language and his calmness. He then stated that his mannerism was an act, something he displayed in public, something he felt compelled to do if he wanted people to belive he was a follower. He wanted people to know God but didn’t want them to really know him, or at least who he was. He loved the Lord with all his heart but thought he needed to adopt certain behaviours and that God would agree to it and be happy. He expressed that he was in fact frustrated and angry with God about not changing fast enough but was not talking to Him about it.
The last time I had met my friend he was going through a divorce and was losing access to his children, mainly because he had an anger issue. He was a great co-worker and friend but every once in a while he would go off on a rant about nothing in particular and we feared him. He did not drink and to the best of my knowledge did not use drugs. He was always angry at something and eventually this anger drove away everyone who loved or liked him. He said it was during anger management counselling that he was introduced to Jesus. The counsellor told him he needed something to believe in and so he went to church. His relationship with Jesus is very real but so is his anger. Although now it does not seem to be directed at anyone, it is deep inside him. He wanted to know why God had not changed Him.
We talked and I learnt that he prayed about many things but never talked to God about himself. He had never talked with God about his anger. He never talked to God about his emotions or feelings or true desires. He never talked with God about his ex-wife or children. He stated that when he prayed he was a different person, just like he was when he sat talking with me, and that he knows it was phony. He had convinced himself that God did not know about what was inside him. He actually said “what God does not know about me was better because it would not harm their relationship.”
Jesus said he would be with us always and He meant with “us”. Not in some far away unreachable location but with us. When the Holy Spirit dwells within us we can not hide what is hidden in our hearts. We can not fool Him by trying to be someone different. We can’t have a true meaningful relationship with God if we can not pray and talk to Him in truth and tell Him what is really bothering us. We can tell Him we are mad because we don’t understand and He will not strike us with lighting. We can tell Him why we are angry and then, as we talk with Him only then, will change begin. He may not be focused on our other prayers because He wants us to firstly tell Him what is truly on our hearts.
What was strange about the conversation I had with my friend is that the words I shared above were his. He quoted Matthew to me. It seemed what he needed to do was say them out loud for someone to hear. Whatever his reasoning for telling me first is irrelevant as God already knew. What was important was that we both were reminded that we can not hide anything from God and if we pretend while we pray, our other prayers are probably not going anywhere as God waits for us to truly speak to Him.
Tell God what is on your heart. Tell Him everything.