So I’ve been listening to the accounts of Elijah and Elisha on my ESV audiobook of the Bible, and it suddenly dawned on me that I’ve been tricked. For most of my life I believed that God was worthy of respect, the kind of respect that requires an obedient, humble heart. So far so good. But sometime in my late teens or early 20’s I was told that God doesn’t mind when we get angry with Him. He already knows what’s on your heart, and He’s big enough—He can take it. This seemed wise to me at the time, and I have incorporated this into my life since.
As I listen, I am reminded of the holiness of God. A young prophet accomplishes his mission, but has a meal when he’s not supposed to. Bam! Dead. Kids make fun of a bald prophet. FOOLS! Bam! Dead. The ethics of the Old Testament are a puzzle I would love to solve someday.
What stands out to me is the story of Elijah in the cave. He’s angry and depressed, and he tells God so. This is supposed to be an example of just the kind of behavior I’m mature enough to express. God can take it, after all. But when Elijah comes face to face with God (who was using His library voice) and repeats his message, he first covers his face. Why? BECAUSE GOD COULD TAKE HIM. And not in the kind of whirlwind he would look forward to.
Of course God can handle whatever emotions we throw at Him, but does that mean we have the right to hurl them just the same? Doesn’t this very truth prove to us that we don’t need to vomit our strongest emotions on God but be still and know that He already knows? When the King invites you to His court, it’s a big deal. When the Almighty listens, it’s the greatest of honors. Should I then make accusations? Should I rage against my Lord?
I totally believe in being honest with God… anything less is just stupid. But I don’t think this gives me the freedom to be honest in a way that dishonors Him. Not anymore. No matter how low Jesus humbled Himself, and no matter how high I am exalted as an adopted child of God, He is still the King and I am still His servant. He is there, He empathizes, He is in complete control. And these truths must guide the way I speak to him. If I’m angry, let me express my concern with hands folded not fisted. Let my face bow to the ground and not sneer at the sky.