Each of us has a story. These stories are made up of the beautiful, miraculous, joyful, tragic, unjust, dark things that have happened to us, and are happening still. What events in your life that cause you to ask God ‘why’ or ask Him where He is? Maybe you can identify with this verse from “I Am” by J. Monty.
“I been serving you for years now. Only thing I’ve earned is tears now/
The devil wrote me up a great offer and I’m looking at this bill now/
My soul ready to kneel down/
At least my son’ll think I’m a great father/
Sometimes it’s worse when you’re middle class/
Cause you don’t make enough for meals and gas/
But you make too much for government assistance Dad/
Tell me are you listening Dad?”
Maybe this hits you:
“And you’re still undercover God/
They’re chopping Christians like lumber/
Kids and their mothers/
While you’re sipping a cup, living it up/
Chilling above us God/
What about the promises You made to us?/
Bout hopping in and saving us?”
In both of these verses, J. Monty works through the harsh realities of being human. We struggle, and some go without. Even beyond that, he speaks of martyrdom and persecution – agony and gripping pain past what I know or can imagine. All of these heavy things – they make us ask God where He is, or even Who He is – that He’d allow this to happen.
Next, J. Monty uses the chorus to illustrate where the narrator (who is asking of God), is at in life. They can’t breathe, they want to leave, and they cannot believe where they are. Has your faith ever been there? Have you asked God, “Can You see where I am?”
I love that this song is written with questions. To me, these questions reveal someone in crisis. Our lives will have times of crisis – sometimes it will feel like we are paralyzed by it for years or generations. But these questions are not statements – nor are they claiming God won’t. They are asking if He will follow through. They are asking why He hasn’t yet shown Himself in a certain way. This difference between the two has been vital to me.
This distinction allows us to practice the short-sided reality of our flesh against the perfect, eternal holiness of Christ. God is not threatened by inquiry. When we ask searching things of Him, questions that force us to look at Him with a clearer vision – this is a healthy practice as a Christian.
But when we begin to allow our crisis to make defining statements about God not being righteous and claim these lies as truth for our lives because they are all we can see in our limited view. This is a harmful practice for a Christian.
If we allow tragedy to define God instead of His character, we miss the power of grace. We miss the power of waiting. Saddest of all, we miss that we are made to be redeemed. Things are not supposed to be fair here. They are not going to be sorted. Ask sweet believer, your God is mighty. He wants you to examine what you believe. Press in, pull the shades back. Yet, understand that not everything is yours to know on this side. It’s okay to wrestle with that, too.
Now let’s look at the final verse. It is a reply that God could have. It’s a list of questions about His creation, humanity’s smallness in comparison to His glory, and a reassurance that He is who He says He is: eternal, wise, and gracious. The verse ends with this,
“You said you wanna see me/
Here I Am/
Just take a second, look around you see how clear I Am/
Don’t you know I could never leave you, see how still I Am/
The problem with this world is that nobody fears I Am/
That digs in, doesn’t it? Thinking through this song, I started to imagine what I’d say to God. How I’d articulate what makes it hard to follow Him, the things I’d ask and how I delusion myself into thinking I’m unique in what ails me. I imagine hearing God reply to me like these lyrics.
I think I’d be startled by Him showing His face. Hopefully, I’d be convicted of knowledge I think I have and don’t. I’d be comforted by His presence and to know He is near. And I pray that I’d be trembling, but my arrogance often is more prevalent than my fear of God.
We’ve been conditioned to choose arrogance, haven’t we? I hear the world say, ‘What I can see is real’, ‘What I can prove is real’, ‘There are no miracles’, ‘Faith is weakness’, ‘Belief in God is an attempt at power’. Yet God has used these places of confusion to draw me into seeking Him. They’ve also taught me to doubt. While it’s led to arrogance, it’s also led to an intellectual love for God, which I believe to be just as legitimate as faith.
But the common problem is a lack of faith paired with a lack of fear of God. I can’t fear someone I only think is mighty. Can’t fear someone I ‘may’ believe turned water into wine, a woman into a pillar of salt, and healed the blind – I have to trust.
I can trust God is all that the Bible explains and claims Him to be. As I trust Him to be the answer for what I cannot reconcile, where I stop begging for omniscience, when I quit calculating, when I begin asking Him for help, instead of just why – there He is. If I trust that God is true, I will, in turn, fear Him. I will fear His majesty, mystery, and power. Fear of God is the product of active faith. I pray that as we try to learn who He is more. We will seek to see Him powerful, instead of ourselves.
“Tell me you can see that I Am/
Know that you only breathe cause I Am/
My Spirit is so grieved/
I’ve been searching for a people/
Who promise not to leave where I Am/
You don’t wanna be where I Am/
Do you still believe that I Am?/
This world has been redeemed through my Son who’s ever bleeding”
I’ve felt intimidated to write about this song. A little bit of it is because J.Monty is a solid lyricist and can get a quite high level (I really want to talk about the “100 Bars” collection, but man is it rich content).
Mostly though it is because this message is critical. Finding God to be glorious determines our ability to see Him well. We can be tempted to spend a lot of our Christian life trying to get all the answers from God, and while this is a fine thing to do in part, it can keep us from the best thing we can do – believe Him and bring Him glory.
I want to believe in God. I want to swap my ‘I am’ mentality, for calling my King, the “I AM.” The mere fact that He allows us to choose if we bring glory to Him or not is ultimate love in my eyes. For sure ask of Him, for sure feel your pain – He is empathic, be human. I’m not devaluing that. But know, He doesn’t have to give anything He has given. Everything in your body and being is a miracle. The fact that we live and breathe, how the world turns, gravity – all of it is a miracle. My prayer to God is this: better will this glory be, used for You then lost on me.