I used to feel spiritually inferior because I had not experience the more spectacular manifestations of the Spirit and could not point to any bona fide “miracles” in my life. Increasingly, though, I have come to see that what I value may differ greatly from what God values. Jesus, often reluctant to perform miracles, considered it progress when he departed earth and entrusted the mission to his flawed disciples. Like a proud parent, God seems to take more delight as a spectator of the bumbling achievements of stripling children than in any self-display of omnipotence.
From God’s perspective, if I may speculate, the great advance in human history may be what happened at pentecost, which restored the direct correspondence of spirit to Spirit that had been lost in Eden. I want God to act in direct, impressive, irrefutable ways. God wants to “share power” with the likes of me, accomplishing his work through people, not despite them.
“Take me seriously! Treat me like an adult, not a child!” is the cry of every teenager. God honors that request, making me a partner for kingdom work, granting me freedom in full knowledge that I will abuse it. God does this out of desire for a mature lover as a partner, not a puppy love adolescent.
In marriage two partners can achieve a unity while preserving their freedom and independence. Even so, as every couple learns, combining two genders in a marriage introduces differences that my take a lifetime to work out.
I will never be able to reduce life with God to a formula for the same reason I cannot reduce my marriage to a formula. It is a living, growing relationship with another free being. No relationships has proved more challenging than marriage. I am tempted to wish for an “Old-fashinoned” marriage, in which roles and expectations are more clearly spelled out and need not always be negotiated. I sometimes yearn for an interventions from outside that world deciseively change one of the characteristics that bring my wife and me pain. So far, this has not happened. We wake up each day and continue the journey on ground that grows incrementally more solid with each step.
Love works that way, with partners visible or invisible.