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
Thursday, November 8, 2012
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.