Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind…
Today in Mamaroneck, New York, wind gusts are up to fifty miles per hour. It’s a contending force out there. It’s battering at our windows, the drafts that make it through re-invigorate the stagnant air inside. It’s sending tremors up into the very chair I’m sitting on. I’m thankful I don’t live in a house of straw or sticks, but one of brick…well, technically, it’s wood and plaster and sheetrock but still…the three little pigs analogy….go with me on this one.
I read another chapter in Brennan Manning’s book, Ruthless Trust. My Dad wrote me about the book while I was at L’Abri. He said it helped him see and experience God’s love in a new way. After he gave it to me for Christmas, it went to the top of my “To Read” list. And boy does it deliver. Some residue leftover from L’Abri has been an ever-persistent desire for stillness. I don’t get it nearly enough back in the states. It only takes a second to get tangled up again in the webs of the Internet and acquisition of wealth. But Jesus’ Kingdom completely counters this earthly kingdom. When the world says, “Earn mo’ money and buy this incredibly useless thing”, Jesus says, “Give it all away and follow me.” When the world says, “Turn up the muzack and do whatever makes you feel good,” Jesus says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The noise of the world is just that…noise. Am I listening to it or am I listening to His gentle whisper that comes after the fire? I don’t want to answer that question.
Little V’s (the boy I babysit for) parents don’t allow us to watch TV. Although I moan and wish I could use those empty television shows to distract him thereby gifting me thirty minutes rest, I respect their decision. They’re asking him to be present in life, instead of escaping it. I also met a family passing through L’Abri that were working their way towards becoming “screenless”. My mouth gaped in wonder. “Not even ONE computer?!” Not even one. I am simultaneously terrified by that idea and drawn to it like a wasp to strawberry jam.
“Quiet time is often not quiet. Our designated prayer time is generally consumed by hurried meditation on a scripture passage, a run through the Rolodex of person to intercede/petition for, and occasional expressions of gratitude for the gifts of our lives—faith, health, family, and friends. The inner urgency to fall prostrate before the Infinite rarely intrudes on our consciousness. Recent studies have shown that the average congregation on a Sunday morning can tolerate only fifteen seconds of silence before someone feels compelled to break it with an announcement, a song, a prophecy, or whatever.” (Ruthless Trust, 78)
I’m meeting with a counselor these days. One of my favorite things about it is the drive. It’s thirty minutes away in Greenwich, Connecticut. I turn the radio off, (last week the weather was pleasant enough to roll down the windows), cruise down the straightaway, and soak up the scenery. Trees and grass and houses that look like southern plantations…a time of heart preparation, just God and me.
“Those who look beyond the literal see the world as a metaphor for God. When they direct us to the majesty of the mountains, the beauty of the prairies, the variety of wildflowers along the roadside, the smell of mint and hay on a summer morning, the rumble of a train through the valley, the sound of a waterfall, they birth the Word in our midst. They dare us to dream of our homeland, where eye has not seen, neither has ear heard nor has the imagination conceived of the beauty that awaits us.” (Ruthless Trust, 75).
On this windy windy Saturday, let’s stop and be still. Know that He is God. Hear His gentle whisper. Dwell in His Kingdom, not this one.