Selah: Reminder

For most of my 20’s and 30’s I couldn’t sit still. I was a doing machine. Those were the days of attempting to balance mothering, working, and being a wife and keeping a house.  Somehow through that period we also spent time with friends—doing things.

Then a shift began to take place. I became able to sit for long periods of time: reading, watching TV, or more recently trolling and scrolling on the internet. One must create a social presence.

Almost two years ago, I got a FitBit. And I started to move. My wrist companion even reminds me to move every hour. Many complain about that feature, but I love it! If I sit for too long I get stiff and have difficulty moving when I need to. The result has been a renewed dedication to moving, and setting goals for quantity and quality of movement. I have become disciplined—and it feels good.

I wonder if I could set a reminder to think about God.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him (Psalm 62:5, NLT).

 

 

How do you wait?

WP waiting

Nothing is really written about today. We who know the rest of the story look toward tomorrow morning like a child expecting a basket full of goodies.

But how did the disciples wait…or did they.

They hid. In John we read that they were huddled in a room behind a locked door. Fearful that they might be next…guilt by association.

Others went back to work, went back to what they knew…what they could count on.

Some made the long walk home to Emmaus.

They didn’t know the end of the story. Otherwise they would have been gathered outside of the tomb, ready to celebrate!

I’m not a very good “waiter”, especially when I don’t know what outcome I’m waiting for. I get impatient when God doesn’t answer right away…when Saturday drags on forever.

But even if I don’t know how things are going to end, even when the end seems so dreadfully far away…Sunday’s coming.

If we were sitting across the table, talking over a cup of something warm, I’d look you in the eye and say: “Let’s make a pact. Let’s decide to anticipate that God is going to do something. Let’s trust him to have our best in mind. Let’s.”

So, let’s.

PRAYER: God of silence, God of wait, God of meanwhile…we want to be like children eagerly anticipating that you have got an awesome plan for our lives. Better than we could ever imagine. Walk with us through our Saturdays, our times of doubt and fear. We want to live every day like Sunday’s coming. Amen.

WP trust like a child

Shhhhhh.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5, ESV)

When I have to wait, I am typically not silent about it.

I can find all kinds of ways to grumble and complain about the waiting. The line’s too long. The Musack is too annoying. I’m wasting time.

I am learning all the grumbling in the world will not make the wait shorter or more enjoyable.

Perhaps if I allow silence into my waiting…if I will quiet my mind, my heart, my spirit…I will hear another voice speaking and assuring me the process is the point.

PRAYER: God who dwells in silence and whispers, quiet me and speak so I can hear.

The Message in the Silence

This morning my daughter posted this on Facebook: Why is it that your kids don’t seem to hear you unless your yelling at them, but then they give you that pouty face that makes you feel sick for having yelled at them so they’d finally listen?! Being a parent sucks!

I will admit that my first thought was to smile, thinking of all the yelling I did when she was my strong willed always right closed minded child. We raise them to be independent and have opinions. We just don’t realize that they’re going to develop those so early and with such strength.

Reading her post got me thinking about my own childhood. My mother wasn’t a yeller. That’s not to say she couldn’t—I received my share of loud scoldings. My mother had three other weapons in her arsenal that often left me wishing she was a yeller. First, she was the master (perhaps even the inventor) of “the look.” No word needed to be spoken; message received loud and clear: cease or die. What was most amazing to me was when she used it on other kids at stores or other public places and they got the message too!

The second tool that my mother relied on was action. We knew that mom would not hesitate to use whatever was at hand or just her hand to make her point. This resulted in my brother getting konked on the head the telephone receiver when was making too much noise while she was on the phone (phone calls were typically fewer and much more important back in the day). Hair brushes, yardsticks, and those stupid paddle ball paddles—looking back I now see why she was always willing to give into that childish indulgence as we checked out at the store. You think we might have put that together better.

But the most effective tool in my mother’s parental arsenal was silence. Silence typically conveyed one of two messages, both extreme. She was either extremely disappointed or so angry that if she said anything she would have exploded. This final weapon was so powerful that it always got our attention and resulted in our praying for the silence to end.

As I am writing this, I am on the mend from a very weird and pain-filled three weeks. I progressed from swollen feet to extremely swollen feet and ankles and pain while walking to nodules all over my legs and arms and in my joints (elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, ankles toes), to fevers and shakes. I’ve had so many blood tests, I feel like a pin cushion—the very nice woman in the outpatient check-in knows me by name. I had a punch biopsy. Standing was so painful. At times I admit I just melted into tears. And I just couldn’t shake the thought: what if this is as good as it gets? I believe in healing, but I know that God doesn’t remove every infirmity.

Now, I realize that my suffering was probably very light compared to others. But it was mine and for a relatively active and healthy person this was intense and scary. Perhaps the was the worst: not knowing what was going on and not knowing how long it would continue.

Getting quiet with God this morning, thinking about my daughter’s post and my pain, I found myself thinking about the times I cried out to God these past few weeks. I began to feel like Malachai: how long, God? Silence. I wanted to be angry, to decry what seemed so unfair. But I couldn’t. Because somewhere in the silence there was a drawing…a calling…a voice…trust me.

At first I thought my pain was God “screaming” at me, me the errant, disobedient child. Punishing. Then it seemed more like a “smack” of sorts to get my attention. But each of those fell short. All my experiences with the silent messages from my mother were good for one thing for sure: they taught me to listen, listen hard, and listen long—for the answer is always there in the silence. At least it has been for me.

But like I said, I appear to be on the upswing. Maybe that’s why Job didn’t curse God when his wife suggested it. She wasn’t evil, she just ached to watch him suffer, and was suffering herself. Hope dies hard. Even if the pain I was suffering was going to be my friend for the rest of the journey, I would have adapted…somehow. And I know that God would have been with me. That was the kind of answer that Malachi got. God let the prophet know that he wasn’t going to like the answer to his question because God was going to use his enemy to bring about His purpose. It was the same message for Jeremiah (read ALL of Jeremiah 29).

I don’t know how it goes for you, but I tend to struggle with trying to fix and control. Trust doesn’t always come easy, but I usually get there. Just like when I was a child. Just like when I dealt with my own children. Sometimes learning is hard, as my daughter is finding. Parenting, too. Just ask God.

Wondering and Wandering: Silence

“Silence is the way to make solitude a reality. The Desert Fathers praise silence as the safest way to God. ‘I have often repented of having spoken,’ Arsenius said, ‘but never of having remained silent.’ One day Archbishop Theophilus came to the desert to visit Abba Pambo. But Abba Pambo did not speak to him. When the brethren finally said to Pamo, ‘Father, say something to the archbishop, so that he may be edified,’ he replied: ‘If he is not edified by my slience, he will not be edified by my speech.'” From The Way of the Heart by Henri J.M. Nouwen

As I have occasionally pointed out, I am an ESFP with ADD. I think out loud. I come from a loud family. I raised a loud family. My grandchildren, especially the red-haired-wonder-child (RHWC). My dogs are very loud. They bark at everyone that walks by (and a lot do) and all the squirrels that tease them from the trees (I would hate to see what happened if one of them fell into the dog pen). I worked in a factory where it was constant noise.

Oddly, over the past four years I have found great peace in the silence I find in my day job. No tv. No radio. The only sound is my occasional chime to remind me to play a game of Words with Friends. The little lady I stay with turns her hearing aids off so there’s not even much conversation when she ventures out of her room. And I’m really quite okay with that.

The RHWC is a boy–all boy. Long ago, hub and I decided that boys just have to make noise: sounds just have to come from little boys. Noise for noise sake. It reminds me of how Jesus described the way that the pagans just babble on when they pray. I don’t find any need to talk to hear myself talk–I just think out loud when I’m in conversation. Somewhere along the line I lost my need to talk.

The nice thing about that is that it makes lots of room to listen. To hear what others are saying…or not. To hear what God is saying…or not. I wonder how noisy it was in the stable…perhaps that why Mary sat quietly and pondered all these things in her heart.

Writing this just sent me to the bookshelf…I pulled out my copy of Oats “Nurturing Silence in A Noisy Heart.” More to come…