Hard To Get

I’ve been sick these past few days. It only served to highlight the gray place I feel I’m in. Personally. Ministry wise. It all looks very gray. Not absolutely dark or black. Just gray. I feel stuck. I feel God is far away. I know he is not. But I feel overwhelmed by my feelings. I’m often, as someone once pointed out, a black and white thinker controlled by my emotions. That’s the case these days. And tonight I thought of one of my all-time favorite songs. Considering the fact that many artists have covered a multitude of Rich Mullins’ songs over the past many years, it strikes me as remarkable that I can only find one person, Phil Stacey, who has taken it upon himself to make a cover version of one of Rich’s most honest and powerful songs, Hard To Get.

I guess I understand why. It’s a brutally honest song. We often think, we are not supposed to feel the way Rich feels in the song. But we all do at times. Some of us more often than others. You become very vulnerable if you express these feelings to other people. So most people hide them. We put on a happy smile. We fake it. And we hope these feelings will just disappear. We don’t invite God into them.

This song is an invitation. An invitation to God. A series of questions thrown at God. There are some accusations. Not unfair accusations. It’s not a matter of right or wrong. This is real life. This is not polished-up religion or keeping-up-appearances. This is raw, felt reality. And God is the one who needs to answer. You can’t answer for me. I can’t answer for you. God needs to answer. And he will. I trust that he will. So did Rich. That’s why he wrote the song. He wasn’t afraid to get naked in front of God with the mess that was his life.

I’m there too. I feel lots of things right now. Most of them don’t lead to life. These feelings steal life. I am tempted to agree with them and agree that myself, God, other people and life are all more or less hopeless. But I choose not to do that. I choose to direct my questions to God. My concerns. My hurts. My wounds. I’m walking wounded. And life hurts right now. I feel alone. I feel abandoned. I feel lost. But I turn to God, and ask him to show me the way out of this mess. I trust that he has led me so far, and I trust he’ll continue to lead me. I don’t understand his ways. His path almost always seems to be more complicated and longer than the one I would have preferred. But that’s okay. I surrender the mess that’s me to him. He is the Shepherd, I’m the sheep. Lead me, Jesus. I don’t know where I’m going. And I feel lost.

Hard To Get

“You who live in heaven hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth? Who are afraid of being left by those we love and who get hardened in the hurt.

Do You remember when You lived down here where we all scrape to find the faith to ask for daily bread?

Did You forget about us after You had flown away? Well, I memorized every word You said. Still, I’m so scared I’m holding my breath, while You’re up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin? We have a love that’s not as patient as Yours was, still we do love now and then.

Did You ever know loneliness, did You ever know need? Do You remember just how long a night can get, when you’re barely holding on, and Your friends fall asleep, and don’t see the blood that’s running in Your sweat?

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted, while You’re up there just playing hard to get?

And I know You bore our sorrows, and i know You feel our pain, and I know that it would not hurt any less, even if it could be explained. And I know that I’m only lashing out at the One who loves me most

And after I’ve figured this, somehow, what I really need to know is: If You who live in eternity hear the prayers of those of us who live in time. We can’t see what’s ahead, and we cannot get free from what we’ve left behind.

I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears all these words of  shame and doubt, blame and regret

I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here, to where I’m lost enough to let myself be led

And so You’ve been here all along I guess, it’s just Your ways and You’re just plain hard to get”

Written by Rich Mullins for the majestic album, The Jesus Record, which is definitely on my all-time top 3 list!

I couldn’t find the original Rich Mullins-version anywhere on Youtube, but I appreciate this Phil Stacey-cover version:

Blessings, Torben

6 Responses to “Hard To Get”

  1. 1 wtgm3
    January 16, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    I got your blog in a Google alert for Phil Stacey, :-). This song
    speaks to all of us, especially in this day and age, when so many are going through a struggle. Phil himself has said in several interviews how Rich had the guts to put into words what many of us feel. Phil said that it helped him, too, because he did not want to bring up those questions in the open and reflect negatively on his pastor-father. Below is the link to the song as Phil recorded it on his cd. You won’t be able to find Rich’s, unfortunately, as he never got to put it out, according to Phil. But Rich’s fans have his original recording, which Phil has also heard, along with outside noises. He recorded it on a boombox, apparently.

  2. January 16, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    Hey wtgm3! Thanks for your comment. Yep, the original version of the song is on the demo cd which is the first cd on the Jesus Record. It’s raw, vulnerable, and very Rich! You should definitely get ahold of that album and listen to it.

  3. January 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Hey Torben
    I just noticed your name on gracebook.net and didnt know you so checked out your website. So glad I did. Thank you for your honesty and sharing that song which I have never heard before, broke my heart, especially as its right where I am at. In the fake it sub-culture of the church its taboo to be vulnerable, people dont know what they are supposed to do with you. Finding the reality of Christ in me through the exchanged life has made it ok to be vulnerable, ok to have grey days and black days, (white days are still the best tho :P) because Father is in it with me. Even when he feels a million miles away I know its really only a heartbeat. I still find people want to fix it for me, but thats ok too. Its what Grace is all about. Thanks again Torben, I pray you hear the heartbeat.

  4. January 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Hey Annie! Thank you so much for your comment and your observations. It is indeed a lonely calling to be truly honest in the church. It is, however, a beautiful relief to know that Christ is never threatened or troubled by real honesty. He values it, welcomes it and longs for more of his children to be able to express themselves more freely. And thanks for the reminder that Christ isn’t far away. He truly isn’t. He is alive inside of me. And how thankful I am for that, also – actually maybe especially – on days where I don’t feel it. Blessings, Torben

  5. January 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    You know, the other day I heard this song and something hit me. The last line it says,”can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here, to where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.” When I heard that it gave me great insight to where Rich was at that time. You could say that he could have been in a place of reassurance that his life was used by God. His life touched millions. But to be saying that, right up to the end of his life. No answers, only questions to adequacy, to meaning, to usefulness. For me it was a huge reassurance. Being in an organization that seems to always know it’s future and significance in the world and telling me to be the same, when all the while I am unsure of where God is leading me unless he has led me here, to where I am lost enough to let myself be led, I felt better about my questions. Knowing that these questions will follow me to my grave. Yet, the reassurance that God’s mercy allows peace in the desert. It was nice to be able to see into the mind of one of my bigest heroes and know that he struggled like me. It makes me wonder if Jesus, who knew what it was to be human, felt the same thing. I will have to do some more pondering.

    Thanks great dane.

  6. January 21, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Hey Lance! Thanks for your comment! Glad to hear that God spoke to you through Rich’s thoughts and honesty. I do believe that this is where faith comes in. Faith allows me to trust that even when I don’t understand why Christ wants me to go a certain direction, I can choose to trust that his leading is always perfect and always accomplishes exactly what he wants it to. Though I’m often confused and feel lost, I trust, and I believe Rich trusted, that Jesus knows what he is up to!

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