Thursday, July 22, 2010

"For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God." ~Psalm 38.15

“She asks too much for whom God is not enough.” ~ Hannah Whithall Smith

In my post of July 14th, 2009 I expressed a desire to write with greater regularity, and committed to doing so. Now a year has passed, and I find myself fighting to suppress the urge to ask myself questions of progress or find some way to “measure” the movements my soul has made. Let me see, a year ago I was there; now, where am I?

In this, as in many other things, my concerns are not so different from those of the three-year-old who, just the other morning, clambered into bed beside me, her brown eyes caked in sleep, and asked, “Oh, where’s Nanny, Mudder?”

We took the colored globe down off the shelf and tripped into the hallway, in our pajamas and our bare feet. We sat down on the floor, the globe between us like a magic ball, and set it spinning: the swishing lulled us into silence as we watched oceans and continents pass by beneath our fingers like scattered pieces of a puzzle. I pointed first to Arizona, then to Washington. I folded my palms into the shape of an airplane, hoping to evoke whatever feeble understanding of geographical distances Audrey has absorbed on our many flights across the country, but she only looked at me quizzically and repeated her question: “Oh, but where is she?” “When is she coming? “Why is she not here?”

Where, when, and why – they are questions which, I imagine, rise from the depths of the human soul even before we have acquired language to utter them; and which, from the first moment we are capable of speech, preoccupy so much of our time and attention that few of us ever really venture beyond them.

But fumblings with rulers and scales do not bring me any closer to measuring the distance my soul has traveled; or weighing the balance to determine whether there are differences in quality and substance. Try as I might, I cannot locate my position, on this or any other map. And all attempts to reflect backward and string the circumstances of the last year together into a coherent drama, where each narrative detail follows naturally and logically from the one preceding it, end in disappointment.

And so I throw up my hands and say with the apostle, “I do not even judge myself but keep entrusting myself to the one who judges justly,” replacing monosyllabic questions with monosyllabic words: ‘faith,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘love.’

I don’t know where, precisely, He is taking me; or why it so often seems the path of most resistance. I've no idea when He will bring about the answers to the questions that burn inside my soul; though I strain and squint I see nothing on the horizon – but I have faith that He knows. Christ Jesus is my hope and my soul’s anchor (Ps. 38.15, Heb. 6.19), supplanting, for a time at least, my need to understand the ‘why’ behind life’s deepest complexities and pains. Even if I don’t know when the prison doors will be flung open, setting free that which, in me, remains bound and broken, I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8.35-39). And it is this love that sustains me.

“O, Lord, I am tired,” said the woman. “I feel I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing” (Isaiah 49.4).

“That is because you do not understand My purpose, child, which is infinitely higher than yours. You forget that, just as the rain comes down from heaven and does not return to it without watering the earth and bringing forth buds, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

“I accept this, Lord, but I must confess that this wisdom is beyond me. I do not understand what you are seeking to accomplish. All I know is that I feel forsaken.”

“I know what it is to be forsaken, daughter. I was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hid their faces I was despised and without esteem. If this is the path by which I accomplished the salvation of mankind, can you expect your own path to be so different?”

“No, Lord, I only want your voice and your presence to light my way. But all around me there is darkness – as if I have been covered by a shroud."

"You must be patient, child. Remember, it is out of darkness that I bring forth light; and out of death, new life is born."

"O, Lord, I am so impatient."

"Impatience breeds discontent. When you strain toward the past or future you fail to live in the present; and the present is the only place where you may experience the joy of my presence."

"I long to live in the present! Forgive me for failing to meet you there... but I feel so often that you have forgotten me.”

“No, Daughter, it is you who forget.”

“Me, Lord? What have I forgotten?

“You have forgotten all my benefits. I am he who healed all your diseases and redeemed your life from the pit so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup you will never drink again.”

“O, Lord, this is true. Forgive me for failing to be grateful.”

“I created the heavens and the earth; I gathered the waters together into seas and set the glittering stars into place. I, even I, formed you in your mother’s womb. There is not a hair on your head that is not numbered.”

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Forgive my presumption and my unwillingness to wait in silence for you to answer."

"Stand at your watch. Station yourself on the rampart. Do not stop looking to see what I will say. The revelation awaits an appointed time. It will not prove false.
Though it linger, WAIT for it. It will come. It will not be delayed."

"Lord, I will wait and look and listen. Forgive the lying thoughts that told me you had forgotten.”

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast, and have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

“Lord, I believe you; but how will I know?"

“You have no need for more knowledge. Knowledge is wearisome. Instead, you need to know me. Come to me when you are thirsty; come to me when you have no money; come, buy and eat! Listen, listen to me and I will delight your soul with the richest of fare. Come and I will open your ears and instruct your tongue to know the word that sustains the weary.”

"It is so tempting to conclude that you are merely speaking spiritual words in a spiritual language - a language which will never be expressed in the temporal realm.”

"You will see my goodness in the land of the living... Wait on me: be of good courage, and I shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say."

"But waiting is so hard. Isn't there something I can do while I am waiting?"

"Waiting is what I have given you to do. It is an active and not a passive occupation."

"It sounds like such a small thing, but it takes more strength and energy than I possess."

"I will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land. I will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

"Behold, I am your servant. May it be done to me according to your word."


Anonymous said...

Seeing is believing.百聞不如一見............................................................

Shilo Taylor said...

Have you been sitting in on my quiet times? These are my conversations with the Lord! I, too, am learning about "actively waiting" as Jehoshaphat- saying, "Praise the Lord, his mercy endures forever" while hoping that as I come to the wilderness and survey, the battle will have already been won. Love you.