I Haven't Heard From You - some thoughts behind "Lately"

"Lately" is a song that went through several revisions before it felt just right. The primary idea was inspired by conversations with my husband about those times where you just feel like God is so distant – as we’ve grown in faith, we know that He is not in fact distant but we aren’t able to “sense” His presence at all times.
 
In fact, the Word promises that whenever we seek God, we will find Him. For example:
Jeremiah 29:13
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Psalm 145: 18
“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

James 4:8 (a)
“Draw near to God and He will come near to you.”


I thought about many years ago in youth group at Cottage Hill Baptist Church when we came back from that mountain-top experience that is youth summer camp and found ourselves feeling discouraged when the feeling didn’t stick with us forever. Our youth pastor talked about how we can’t bottle up those moments and hang onto them as something to be replicated, but we have to keep seeking hard after God even when feelings change. I thought about how tempting it is as a Christian leader to try and replicate experiences where God has moved mightily – to create a formula that can simply be repeated. But it doesn’t work that way, because God is inherently creative and I think He likes to surprise us!

But then Isaiah 29:13 laments,
“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’”

I don't know about you, but I've been there. My desire is to seek a fresh encounter with God in each moment, and not to get caught up in tradition and routine. It’s great to remember what God has done – in fact, God commands the Israelites to place stones of remembrance in Joshua 4. Many people keep a journal where they record these things, and even though I’ve never been consistent about keeping a journal, I do have a few that I look back to sometimes. It made me think of those little jars people collect from the beach, with some sand and a shell or two. But then I got a mental picture of a room just absolutely full of them, where there’s no room for anything new. Remembering is good, but it’s so important that we keep seeking God’s face in the present!

I hold on to moments, they're like souvenirs;
Little jars of sand to prove that You've been here.
When I hold them in my hands, 
Oh, how I long for You to speak to me again

But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
I've heard it said and recognize it as the Truth
If You seem distant, You're not the one who moved
But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately


A side note here – in the first draft of this song, I squished all the choruses together and repeated the whole thing each time. That was too long! But I felt like I needed to say it all. I had already played it out several times and practiced it a whole lot before I realized that verse one was about hearing from God, the second was about seeing Him at work, and the last one needed to come back to “so what am I doing about it?”

It’s so easy to look around at everything going on in the world and wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” I’m (barely) a part of the millennial generation, and so part of my life experience has been watching friends grow up and leave the church. While I remain rooted in Christ by faith, I can understand their reasoning on a purely intellectual level. It seems to me that the core reason is usually driven by this frustration:
 If God is real, and God is all-powerful, and so much is wrong with the world, then how can He be good? 

Look, I can’t answer that question completely in this post. I’m not sure I can personally answer it completely at all – but I can recommend some resources that explain this sort of thing better than I ever could (click contact and send me a message, or leave a comment below). There’s a quote you’ve probably heard that I think sums up my response pretty well:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”though there’s some dispute about whether Ghandi actually said this at all

From my point of view, the biggest problem with the world is that we don’t take action to fix the wrong we see in the world. We live for ourselves. Look out for number one.  But Christ calls the Church His body, and exhorts us to give to the needy without expecting anything in return. If, then, I am the body of Christ, how might I see His hand working around me? By participating in His work!!

Most of my life, I live like it's about me
Although this contradicts what I say I believe
If I really want to watch You move,
How could I restrain the good I know to do?

Lately, I haven't seen Your hand lately
Since you called us out to be Your hands and feet
Should I be so convinced I'm not the one You need?
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately



When I see the need, I often turn the other cheek
As if that's how You'd ever treat the least of these
Unseeing eyes, complacent heart, playing pretend;
It's been my story, and I've come here to repent...

Lately - what have I offered You lately?
Do I need to let go of some things I have
So there'll be room enough for You in my grasp?
Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately
Lately – oh, lately…


And a final note about resolution: Both musically and lyrically, I left this song unresolved on purpose. Life isn't that simple. We feel what we feel. I think part of the problem my generation has had with "the church" is that the institution can make people feel like it's not ok to feel unresolved; like, if you really "get it" then you won't feel that way anymore, ever. I just think that God can handle our humanity. Have you read the Psalms, there's a lot of complaining in there! Jacob literally wrestled with God.

So this is me being real. I don't feel this way all the time, but I have felt and do feel it at times. There's something I can do about it. Sometimes I take the action I know I should, and other times I just complain about it. I hope that's okay. And I hope you know it's okay if you do, too.

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