As I face the task of writing something hopeful, uplifting, witty, savvy or scintillating, I have to ask myself the question “Who are you kidding”? I’ve got nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. Ziltch. I’m totally tapped out and there’s no point pretending otherwise. The way I feel right now has no words.
They say “Silence is Golden”, so that ought to be redemptive. Even Solomon points out there’s an anointed moment to keep your mouth shut (Ecclesiastes 3:7), and I think we’ve come to it. After the year’s assault of Covid19, unrelenting media coverage, and finally, the Election with everybody and their dog providing commentary on Instagram, it’s time for the barrage of meaningless communication to cease. Even if it’s accurate, I don’t want to hear it. I need to hear myself think.
It seems we’re taking a lesson out of the Book of Job this morning. Sometimes, the most salubrious move in life is just to sit quietly on your ash heap. No one really likes to admit that’s where we are, but the wise learn to embrace it. It is what it is. No excuses. I feel like crap and I don’t need to explain why. It’s not criminal to take a beat, press the mute button, and let the full range of what you’re really feeling loose. What a relief to stop pretending. This is not the time to whip up energy, but embrace fatigue. Weariness is a legitimate emotion. Send your yappy, well-meaning, but totally clueless friends’ home. Give your hyper-active conscience a holiday.
Half our problem is that we’re always playing some kind of power games with ourselves, trying to live up to the task-master of our own ego. Then there’s the standards for success superimposed upon us by a society that is never satisfied. We’ve got a machinery of productivity, talent, status or intelligence or religion that needs daily maintenance, and feeding the beast is a full-time job. An enforced curtailing of activity allows the inner, authentic dialog of the heart to rise to surface and actually be heard. “I’m disappointed in you, God. I’m annoyed. I’m frustrated, bored and terrified. Where are you? I’m ready to give up. How long will this go on?”
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah. But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4 KJV
Nobody better than David at expressing the terror of “I’m being chased with no end in sight”. His advice? “It’s only a feeling. Acknowledge your own emotion, and the Lord will visit your honesty. The awe of His presence will re-orient you”. You want revelation? Sit still and look your heart full in the face. You’ll get more than you bargained for.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent. Because God has laid it on him; Let him put his mouth in the dust— There may yet be hope. Lamentations 3:25-29 NKJV
“There may yet be hope”. The upside of humility and silence on the ash-heap is that, sooner or later, God will answer in the whirlwind. Count on it. You’ve finally arrived at the place where you’ll actually listen to the answers. I’m not ok, but He’s still God.
You know, It’s good here. I can feel the sun gently warming. There’s just the softest eddy of wind stirring my hair. It feels nice to just close my eyes for a minute. Listen to my own heartbeat. Just breathe. I’m alive, and that is enough.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2 KJV
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