Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. -- Amos 8:11

It is not that the Lord ever ceases to speak but that people can no longer hear.  The world never listens, never hears God.  With directionless lives, they skitter about as if they were on a mission only to skitter back to where they started.  They hear nothing and assume that God is no longer speaking, or that He cannot speak, does not exist. 

Even when we want to hear, our ears may be dulled by the circus calliope, the cacophony of clowns clambering at the foot of the mountain.  Be still and know that I am God, we are told.  Those of us who seek this knowledge may withdraw to the mountaintop, to the deserts, to remote and lonely places seeking that stillness and silence.  This can be good – at least on occasion and for a time.  Some are called to it as a lifestyle, and any of us may  be called aside now and then.  God, though, does not require physical stillness or silence, but a stillness of heart, a space of spirit.  Your body is the temple and in that most holy place there is quiet.  In here, His voice may be heard over the rage and thunder of battle and storm, so long as the storms and battles remain outside.  Go in, as Jesus advised, to that “closet”, that secret, hidden place and close the door. 

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  It sounds so simple.  Go in and sit at the feet of Jesus.  Yet the verse ends with heart-breaking words:  But you were unwilling.  Let that not be true of us. 

Why would anyone refuse the rest and peace, strength and guidance the Lord offers?  We are willing enough to sprawl in front of a television, to rest physically.  What many of us seem reluctant to do is turn our minds and hearts to the reality of the indwelling Christ, to rest upon Him, His Person and the finished work of the Cross. 

The typical evangelical “worship” service is hardly a place for meditation, reflection, or rest.  There is noise and commotion and high tech displays designed to appeal to the audience’s increasing short attention span.  Many larger churches these days have separate services oriented to divergent demographics.  Older people like me go to one service while the younger crowd goes to a (typically) later service with more flashing lights and newer music played faster and louder, followed by sound-bite sermons from speakers in distressed denim. 

It’s appropriate.  I’m pretty distressed if I happen to walk into one of those by mistake.  My other personal gripe has to do with auditorium lights turned down so low that I can’t see my Bible, let alone read the words.  I’m always tempted to pull out one of my tactical flashlights to follow along – though, of course, the verse is up on the wall anyway.   Real worship is possible in such a place but only because of the inner stillness, the trappings are mostly distractions. 

We seem inclined, like the Romans to whom Paul wrote, to try to ascend up to heaven to bring Christ down or descend into the abyss to bring Him up from the dead with all of our rituals and noisy celebrations.  But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.  There is no need to suffer famine or drought.  The word is in our hearts.  Out of our innermost being will flow rivers of living water.

God still speaks to the still.


Rick said...

Thanks, brother. Needed that.

robinstarfish said...

Go in, as Jesus advised, to that “closet”, that secret, hidden place and close the door.

For those afraid that this equates to hiding one's head in the sand, rest assured that it's not.

mushroom said...

Yep, kind of the opposite.

Rick said...

What you say is one of things that are at the same time critical to be said, many in our group know, but obvious only after it is re-said. At one time I wanted to come up with a name for this because it seemed to need a new one. It's kind of like the gafawHa! but still different (you may already have learned it, not just say as recognizing a seed planted in you before you were born). The best I could do for a new word was: gnobvious. I ran it by Will (where is Mr Will by the way? We need him..) and he approved.
Anyway, when I think the word gnobvious, it is sort of out of veneration for what just took place.
Back to the point of what this particular gnobvious-event means to me, the take-away is: it's time to reread MOTT. I've only read it once. It is like an exegesis of the Bible with a kind guide by someone who understands the raccoon mind.
It's time for some Private Council.

mushroom said...

And afterward maybe a Pirate Council.

Rick said...

Mush! Ben hacked your account!

julie said...

Yes, to the post and the comments :)

robinstarfish said...

Rick, I've been thinking the same thing regarding MOTT. I'm still not upside down enough, gnobviously.

Rick said...

You know, I was thinking precisely of "The Hanged Man".
I'm not kidding.