Thursday, January 14, 2016

Walking, and staggering.



"My coming to faith did not start with a leap, but rather a series of staggers." 
~ Anne Lamott  

Since taking a break from social media, I've been doing crazy things.  You know, like taking afternoon walks without telling anyone about it.  I don't use an app to log my distance or pace.  Some days, I don't even listen to music.  Instead, I listen to the sound of my own steps, the sound of the dog's collar jingling, the rustling of the wind through the leaves, a bird whistling in the distance, the far off hum of a leaf blower.  

In the quiet of my life, all of these sounds have become magnified.

I used to write a lot about hearing from God in these ordinary, quiet, empty moments in life (even though - back then - the opportunity for such was much farther and fewer between).  Not audibly, of course, but in my spirit, a verse hidden in the depths of my heart rising up.  But things shifted - technology shifted - and I held in my hand the ability to look at anything, everything, and everyone else.

I wrote less and less.  Eventually, not at all.  There were times, many times, I wondered why I had ever written at all.  Distraction will do that to us, you know.  We lose our focus.  We lose our way.  We find ourselves sleepwalking through our lives, becoming numb to our callings. Occasionally, I'd think about this faith journey and this quote above from Anne Lamott and think, "Oh yes, me too - only I haven't exactly stopped staggering.  Not yet, anyway."

Staggering, limping along, and then I'd stumble across a quote like this:
"I've blogged for over a decade, piling up stories like the rock piles Joshua built on the other side of the Jordan - so we do not forget his faithfulness" ~  Lora Lynn Fanning
And I'd remember.

Oh yes.  That. 

These words, these stories, they are my stones.  So that I never forget His faithfulness.

So I learn how to look for it, all over again, there in the quiet, there in the seemingly mundane.  To listen for the whisper, to look for that which that calls His word to mind.  And I'm thinking over all of these things as I'm passing by these trees again, standing big and tall in one of the roundabouts in our neighborhood.  The ones I've passed every day since we moved here in early September.  The ones with the big, beautiful leaves that turned the perfectly picturesque golden hue in the fall.  Except for a few other evergreens scattered here and there, they stand in contrast to the barren branches all around them.

It's January and they're still stubbornly clutching their dead leaves, brittle and shriveled.

We're just like that sometimes, aren't we? 

Stubborn.  Unyielding.  Unwilling to let go of the dead or insignificant or useless things in our lives  - and in our hands - to make way for the new things, the new seasons that are to come, the things that matter most.

It isn't every day that I find myself asking God what He'd have me let go of or to show me what it is I'm clinging tightly to.  It certainly isn't every day that I can be prompted to such a question simply by looking at a couple of trees.  But there it is.  These questions, these prayers, these otherwise mundane moments that I've somehow missed in my daily life.  And isn't it the essence of these 21 days of corporate prayer and fasting - that we give up the things in which we'd filled ourselves - our very lives - up with, to empty ourselves out and invite Him in all over again; to let go of things we've clung to and so that we may cling to Him and His word.

"Let us hold tightly to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise." Hebrews 10:23

The psalmist said, "My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me" (Psalm 63:8).  I want to cling to Him, I'm desperate for His right hand to hold me - because, well, I have a tendency to stagger.  Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.  Take my heart, Lord, take and seal it.  Seal it for thy courts above.  


Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers, 
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, 
and who meditates on it day and night. 

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither- 
whatever they do prospers. 

Psalm 1:1-3



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