With his kind permission, I take thoughts which my dear friend posted on my last note and formulate them into something of my own making. Thus, it is named in his honor and should not be construed in the least as an attack upon his person.
Objective thought and temperance. Are these ideas divorced from the realm of faith? Perhaps in some. I do not understand, however, how any person might come to faith without thinking about it objectively. Weighing the options. Considering the alternatives. I do not think that faith is as rash or simple a decision as some would think. On the other hand, there has certainly be a backlash against higher education. Perhaps such anti-intellectualism is what has come to mark people of faith. This should not be so.
This, really, is not what I want to write about this evening.
Should one left in the silence of God speak up for herself? I say both yes and no. I have never held that God cannot bear up under questioning or intense scrutiny. If so, the entire book of Psalms, much of Job and quite substantial chunks of the rest of the Bible should be edited out. If I am to accept the sufficiency of Scripture, then this leads me to conclude that it is perfectly acceptable to speak up. Ask the questions. Make noises of frustration. Moans of woe. Sighs of longing.
On the other hand, silence is not at all a bad thing. If we all spoke just a little less and listened a little more…. I’m sure you catch my drift. To rest the voice and tune the ears for the faintest whisper is an exercise in trust, patience and even tranquility. Just how still and just how quiet does one have to get to truly hear something or someone? Listening is an art best perfecting by the sealing of the lips.
I suppose, then, that discernment is in order.
The real question: is God really there? Is it possible that all of this is in my head?
Don’t balk at that; it’s a very fair and honest question. Time would be when I would try to convince the non-believers of my acquaintance. Now, I only say that He is there and He is outside of me. I have seen His movements; things too “coincidental” to be mere coincidence. Do I believe that we are all controlled by Him? Not in the slightest. I simply believe that He is highly vested and interested in us. I throw myself upon your mercy, reader, and declare that I can offer you no evidence to satisfy, because…well, I think that you would not be satisfied by any. I do not know what your parameters are.
I daresay, however, that last Wednesday was enough for me. Without going into detail, out of respect for those involved, I watched several women – of all ages, experiences, backgrounds, etc. – try to find words of encouragement for a struggling friend. They each turned to the Bible, looking for a verse to couple with their own words of support. From beginning to end, the stream of love and fellowship flowed effortlessly and seamlessly. Not a single phrase, whether quoted or original, was repeated. Each word, carefully weighed and measured, met her deep need. For the briefest of moments, a look of hope appeared in eyes darkened too early by the cares of the world.
That is God. He is real, and He is outside of me.
I know myself. I am not naturally inclined to say, do or participate in many of the things which have been my privilege to in the last few years. This isn’t self-abasement; I’m just being realistic. I know what I am capable of and what I struggle with. And I know how God has changed my heart. If I may be known for anything, let me be known for that. Let me be known as a woman who loved her Savior, and allowed herself to be shaped by His hands.
Is my fate in the hands of another? Is this what gives me great ache? I cannot clearly articulate an answer here. I am neither entirely deterministic or entirely on the side of free-will. I do not think that anyone really is. However, those words “carpe diem,” they ring wonderfully through my soul. God may be silent, but I am not doomed to immobility. I have tools. I have knowledge. I can continue to reach out and serve others in joy. This is the part of faith that, I think, we lack little common practice or experience of. I can smile at the sunset, revel in the beauty of music, sigh with contentedness. I am blessed.
Am I weak? You, reader, depending on who you are, may not like the answer. I am. I am terribly weak, left to my own devices. We all are. Name one person who depends only upon himself – I repeat, only upon himself; no friends, no lover, no family, nothing – and I’ll show you the biggest liar and possibly the biggest sociopath on the planet. Our greatest fear is aloneness. Why else do we constantly seek to fill the silence? Two are better than one, and three are better than two.
To pick myself up instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me is an interesting thought. Again, I fall on both sides of it. I will wait for God to move. Within my spirit, I am firmly planted, waiting. On the other hand, I do not expect anyone else to do my living for me. I am weak and thus need support, but I am not a baby. Nor am I drama-queen. (I say that with a smile, because I really used to be one.) There is no person on this planet who’s going to come along and make it all better.
This is me and God. That’s it. At the end of all things, that’s what matters. Did I stand with my two feet consistently near His?
On an unrelated note, do we begin with behavior, or do we begin with love? Can we understand behavior until we understand love? I am thinking on this often, in a society in which one is often expected to “clean up” before one walks through the doors of a church. Jesus came and did what He did before anyone got cleaned up. In fact, cleansing lies only in Him. Yet, to neglect the behavior after accepting the cleansing is to get up and put your dirty clothes back on. Why not put on new ones, better ones, properly tailored ones?
To a large extent, I expect that I sound foolishly mystical or even outright ridiculous to many of you, dear readers. That is okay. There is something to this life of faith that leaves even the most loquacious of authors without the right combination of words for descriptors.