Saturday, November 27, 2010
Where Are You, God?
". . . how faint the whisper we hear of him."
Sometimes beauty is cloaked in sadness, poignancy often evoking a melancholy sigh. These words move me. There is beauty in the meaning and flow of these words. There is also sadness in the truth of these words.
I have been a Bible reader most of my life and came across these words this week for the very first time. They were penned by Job, the man of lament. They were spoken of God. In his suffering Job describes God as being nearly imperceptible. So many of us have asked, Where are you, God?, and we've been met with absolute silence. The invisible God so often remains just that--unavailable to our senses. It saddens me that God's whisper so often is so faint. I need and desire more than the faint whisper. I want to know, not merely trust. Be clear, God. It's terribly difficult to see God in the circumstances. Sure, when I've sailed in the Caribbean and taken in a beautiful sunset or been staggered by the magnitude of the body of water I "hear" or "see" God pretty clearly. But it is so hard to see God, to hear God in the hatred, the senseless killings, the perversion, the abuse of daily life. God, where are you?
The loud clamor of the chaos in life often drowns out the faint whisper of God. At times, the clamor has come perilously close to shipwrecking my faith. There have been several devastating hammerings of life wherein the clamor was so loud that it drowned out God's faint whisper. The suffering seemed to outweigh the assurance of God's presence. The whisper was, indeed, faint. There are times when the severity of life can nearly extinguish the faint whisper of God.
Yet there is also beauty accompanying the sadness of Job's lament. God whispers; there is a gentleness about God. Often our childhood authority figures form our adult picture of God. God is not the yelling, shaming father. God is not the loud, belittling teacher. Nor is God the red-faced, pulpit-pounding preacher who constituted my childhood view of God. There is a gentleness in God's strong voice. There is a tenderness about the creator of the cosmos. God is not sheer brute force. God is not an omnipotent dictator wielding power unmercifully. God whispers. There is a strange-to-our senses story in the Old Testament about a devout man, Elijah. He is in a decimating season of his life and cries out, "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life. . . " (I Kings 19:4) Life has unfolded and unraveled in such a manner that he, too, wonders, Where are you, God? He treks up a mountain hoping to have some encounter, some frayed strand of hope upon which to cling. The text reads, "Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks. . . but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." God was in the whisper. There is a gentleness in God's strong voice. He does not boss his children; he beckons. God is not the divine drill instructor who orders; he invites.
We don't scream our intimate affections. We don't yell our deep love for someone. We often will kindly whisper our heart's love. We learned that from God. God the creator implanted his DNA in us. God is tender toward you and me. Life assaults and somewhere in the darkness God quietly assures.
I understand Elijah. I have undergone seasons where, I, too, "have had enough." And like Elijah, I await the faint whisper. I depend on it.