Category Archives: God
"You aren't what you have." "You aren't even what you've done." "You are what you're doing right now. Come with me." I am with you as you pray. I am with you in your prayers. I am praying as you're praying. I am paving the way as you pray. (...does God pray? Who does God pray to? What would God pray for? Surely, God doesn't ask things of him/her/themself.) Prayer is a posture Prayer is a listening Prayer is a companioning a compassionate caring. Prayer is walking Prayer is a talking or un-talking Prayer is a being, really, a with-being Prayer is a lifting, a holding, a carrying, a crying, a drying of tears. "I am never angry with you when you pray. Whatever you pray." "You are what you're doing right now."
Nothing is certain these days, it seems. Or perhaps one might say, nothing is certain except uncertainty.
That feels especially true when I put my trust in things I can see, hear, touch, taste or smell. Yep, the evidence of my own senses seems to betray me these days. Even old familiar things are tempting to disbelieve. Especially when our collective perceptions are so divergent.
But it’s always been so. And actually I find that reassuring. Because in the midst of differing opinions and the drawing of different conclusions, each has its own validity… in a way. And that might, if you go along for the unexamined ride, convince you that there is nothing to trust and no one to believe in.
OR … it might send you searching for understanding by diving deeper. For me, the resource that never disappoints is the human body. I never cease to find something enlightening, explanatory and remarkable, yet so astoundingly simple that it sits me down and shuts me up.
I mean, just consider how you see, hear, touch, taste and smell!
For times when the darkness around you makes it hard to see, God designed a pupillary dilation mechanism to let just the right amount of light in.
For times when the sound of confusion surrounds you, God designed a cochlear hearing system which resonates uniquely to every pitch.
For times when gentle caress feels distant, God designed subdermal pressure receptors so sensitive they leave you giddy at the touch of a ladybug or the tickle of a feather but alert you to a creeping spider.
For times when life’s bitterness threatens to spoil your table fellowship, God designed other tastebuds activated by sweet, sour, salty and savory for balanced seasoning.
For times when the stench of evil and injustice suffocates, God designed olfactory epithelium to compel you to seek refreshment and renewal by the winds of the Spirit of hope.
It’s amazing to think, isn’t it, that the complexity that is each of us could possibly have begun with just two single cells and 26 sets of information. But it’s so. Quite a Designer that must have been… must be…. and is even now as we go through life adapting and responding to what comes.
Who in the world would ever have thought of all that?
Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.John 10:37-38
The way ahead looks grim. All options, exhausted. All choices, expended. Looking for clear direction but there is none to be found. If this sounds like you looking at today’s news or today’s climate predictions or today’s culture wars or any other of today’s intractable issues, I’d like us to go back in time. Back to a teetering moment when the Prophet Samuel shows us a way through such times. (If you’re not familiar with Samuel, have a look at the story told in 1 Samuel 16: 1-13.)
Surely things were at an impasse. The prophet Samuel, sent by God to choose Saul’s successor as King of Israel, had come ready to select from among Jesse’s sons. Seven capable, good-looking young men presented themselves: seven times God told Samuel “No,” cautioning him against judging according to their stature or outward appearance. But after seven sons came and went with nary a positive selection, their father Jesse must’ve been peeved.
I can just imagine him fuming. “Aren’t any of these good enough for you, Man of God?!”
I’ll tell you what I would have done, had I been in Samuel’s sandals. I would have taken a second look at those seven fine sons and, calling upon my snippets of Biblical education regarding “7” — 7 sons of Abraham (from the children’s song), 7 days of Creation (from Genesis), 7 is the complete number (from some authoritative Biblical concordance or commentary) — I would have convinced myself that perhaps I had missed God’s yes. Then, of my own accord, I would have told Jesse, “On second thought, I think … this one.” And right there and then I would have toppled from grace.
But Samuel, give him credit, trusted the word of the Lord he’d become accustomed to obeying and proffered a new way. “Jesse,” he asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”
And that’s the kicker, isn’t it? When the answer is not plain and, especially, when all the possible answers seem to have exhausted themselves, we tend to rely on our own experiences and resources. We fill the nervous silence with emotional angst and/or knee-jerk responses.
But how often do we do as Samuel did and wonder if we’re missing something? Such a simple question: “Are these all the sons you have?”
Turns out there was another son, the youngest, David who was tending the sheep. (Spoiler alert: He was the one!) David was summoned, and wouldn’t you know, “he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome?” (Apparently God does notice outward appearance.) But, we’re reminded, “the Lord does not see as mortals see, … the Lord looks on the heart.”
Perhaps in this moment, it wasn’t just the heart of David the Lord was looking on. Perhaps the heart the Lord was counting on belonged to Samuel. He was the kind who, even when it appeared all options had been exhausted, didn’t just dig deeper into his own capability. He trusted his instructions and the One who had given them and discerned another way. A new way, as the Prophet Isaiah phrases it, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
So many things feel to me like wilderness and wasteland right now I’m tempted to shout, Lord, show me this new thing! But I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that comes by shouting. I expect, it will more likely come by listening.
And, in the way of a perfect ending to a well-crafted story, the way will be clear in a “why-didn’t-we-see-that-in-the-first-place?” sort of way.
What is the question?
Prayer: Lord, we come to you today, confessing our inability to resolve many of the difficulties we face. Hold us fast, we pray. Help us to look, listen and trust. Even when we don’t see a way in our wilderness, you have already made one. Show us the way that’s waiting to declare itself to us; that’s waiting to welcome us; that’s waiting for us to choose it. Then, Father, grant us the courage to walk into it. Amen