Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Rest

What is hidden behind the daily stuff of life? Today I see life as a mask, a screen like the wooden carvings that separate the congregation from the holy altar in Orthodox sanctuaries. The beauty is undeniable -- the pleasure of finishing an errand that has been on the mind for several days, the satisfaction of sliding photos into just the right sleeve in just the right order. But what is muted by all this? There is a deeper thing going on within each action. My heart is either moving toward, or straining against, the strings of God. (Can it ever be standing still? Is stasis a state in a true God-walk? If he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus, is he who is not moving forward falling behind?) Every day I ask Him to tie another string to me. Yes, I want it all with strings attached! If He is going to give me life, I want to be tied to Him in gratefulness. If He is going to offer me a place to twirl in freedom, I want my free feet connected to His. Why dance my own dance when I could dance the steps of God? I am indebted to Him, yet I “owe” Him nothing. I am alive by His being, yet I am free to turn away from His face and set my back against His presence. Every moment seems a choice point. This is delightful, but tiring. It is also potentially frightful. Can I not stop and catch my breath? Do I always have to be saying “yes” without a chance to pause? And if I do stop to stare backward, am I Lot’s wife -- disaster immanent? What happens if I rest?

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9; Matt. 11:28)

I have not finished my “earthly toils”, yet I need this rest. Rest is not entirely what one might think. When my body relaxes after an arduous time of working on high-alert, it often gets sick. I always wonder why, just when it should have even more energy to resist with, it succumbs to the sore throat it had been staving off successfully. I can’t explain the phenomenon, but my thoughts turn to my soul and find the same pattern. Is it not the case that when I am in pain, pressed hard by Satan and the world, and too busy to spend days reflecting on where God is in the mess, I find Him as quickly as I begin to look? I become like a swimmer, gasping for Him, encountering Him with each rise to the surface. Filling my soul with life the way air fills the swimmer’s lungs is a particular joy of His. I have never swum up toward Him and found only more water to drown in. But then come moments of peace, rest, and along with them, too much quiet. Is my Lover pulling back and saying “You have time and space, now, sweetheart. Seek me with diligence and ardor”? Then, if I do, will I find Him in a new way, and find different things about Him than I knew before? Or, perhaps when I am not being chased from behind by an enemy, I do not run quite as furiously toward a savior. Whatever the case, it does seem to me that when quiet has come -- my liquid gold has finished swirling and is becoming still -- the dross, the places unstringed to God, come bubbling up and burst, splatter. (Yes, it happens every day on the stove. When the stirring stops, the boiling begins.)

This may be why I worry there is no neutral place. When I become still, the hidden faults become apparent. It is not that I am falling back. I suppose I am becoming transparent, as God begins to bring up issues I didn’t have the emotional resources to approach with Him before. Rest has not become a time to be stationary in my relationship with God, but a time to be still and watch Him BE God in His sovereign way -- a way that will end up requiring the full involvement of my own heart, soul, mind and strength.

Odd thoughts, I guess, coming in the same breath with a new journey and the excitement of freedom and the unknown. I can’t even pin them to one particular event, or sin, or unstringed place. I’m in Kansas City, living for a month with a great friend and hanging out every evening with my sister and brother-in-law. I’m trying to find my rhythm - which is a hard thing for a girl used to years of a nine-to-five existence. I’m wondering how much time I should spend in the prayer room at the International House Of Prayer and how on earth I’m going to get everything read that is on my reading list. All the while, in the background, behind the carved veil of daily life, the altar is pulsing with God-activity and my spirit is struggling with my soul to stay still, unstirred, and ready to boil. I am in the plain I talked about in my first post, and I think I’m hearing Him speak. He’s saying different things than I expected, but, doesn’t He always?!

Peace to you,
Amy

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