Could it be?

could it be?

Could it be that God still speaks from time to time?

Could it be that though the Divine can seem silent when the world screams with pain, perhaps there is more going on than we can hear?

Could it be that an infinite God, a fractured world, and a breathtaking people blend into confusing patterns of Presence and Absence? Could it be that this is part of the wonder of living as a human being?

Could it be that it wasn't just my voice I heard in my head as I walked along in prayer? Could it have been the actual voice of an actual God, telling me I was not alone? Could it be that if I suspend my disbelief for just a little while, I might laugh with the joy of delight?

Could it be that I do not have to understand God's engagement with the world in order to experience God's care for me? Could it be that God's presence can be ridiculously obvious when I am aware enough to notice?

Could it be that Jesus is asking me, "What do you want me to do for you?" just as He asked blind Bartimaeus? Could it be that God wants me to know the answer to that question so I can hear the invitation in it to live more fully? Could it be that this is what God's calling on our lives is really all about?

Could it be that God still speaks from time to time?

Could it be that the answer is yes for me?

Could it be that the answer is yes for you?

 

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When Grief and Joy Collide

photo (8)
photo (8)

This is a picture of the lovely bunch of roses given to me by my husband yesterday, in celebration of our fourteenth wedding anniversary.

As children across the world were fleeing violence, as race riots were happening over the death of yet another black teenager, and as we were having a national discussion about depression and suicide, it was my anniversary. It was a day of joy and gratitude standing in stark contrast to the day of lament for so many others. Also? I was sick.

Life is never experienced one feeling at a time.

We give birth to babies while others struggle with infertility. We hate our jobs or lose our jobs while others get exciting promotions. We join a friend at a birthday parties after going to visit another in the hospital.

What do we do with all that?

There is so much of it that is out of our control. We cannot will the good to rain down on us instead of the bad. We cannot manufacture easy answers to why some prayers seem to get answers and some do not. We cannot ensure that days of celebration do not crash against times of disaster.

So what do we do? How do we handle the collision of grief and joy that greets us each day of our lives?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of the word with.

With is used over 1300 times in the New Testament. The first time is in Matthew chapter 1, as Mary is described as being with child. The second is when that child is described as being God with us.

With is the word of the incarnation.

With pushes us to feel the presence of God in our midst, through every high and low moment of our lives. With knows that comfort is found less in the search for answers and more in the manifestation of grace.

God with us was Jesus in perfect love coming into a world of broken love, showing us that the two are held together in Him.

We are raised with Christ and indwelled with the Spirit, so that we might follow in the legacy of incarnation. To bear with one another in love, to sit with one another in grief, to join with one another in celebration.

God with us can give us the courage to be present with it all. Present with those we love, even when it’s hard. Present with the news, even when it makes us cry. Present with our kids, even when something else needs to get done. Present with our feelings, even when avoiding them would be so much easier. Present with our experiences, even when they conflict with what is going on all around us.

God with us allows us to be present with God in prayer with it all, whether lament, gratitude, praise, anger, clarity, or confusion.

With is not an answer, yet somehow, it feels like exactly what we need to know.

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Calling on the Name of the Lord

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;     make known among the nations what he has done. – Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

What does it mean to proclaim the name of the Lord?

At best, it sounds like the formal and churchy terminology found in many worship songs. At worst, it creates an awkward picture of someone standing on a street corner shouting the Lord’s name at random people passing by.

Either way, it doesn’t strike me as very personal.

When I look at the Hebrew for proclaim, the word is qara’, which means to call out. But that is not all.

It also means to “encounter.”

When I think about the name of the Lord, I look at Exodus 3:14, when God proclaims the identity Yahweh, “I AM.”

Psalm 105
Psalm 105

What does it mean to encounter I AM?

Suddenly, what once felt formal and distant, feels intimate and powerful. And I'm reminded how so much in what prayer and praise feels like returns to how we view God.

Are we on the ground, shouting to the sky, hoping God might hear us if we perform up to the standards of a great Diety?

Or are we going about our lives while encountering the a loving God whose presence is both beyond us and with us in all things?

Jesus talked a lot about having ears to hear and eyes to see. Maybe He was calling us to the same thing as this Psalm: an intimate encounter with the great I AM.

And with that, the second half of the verse also feels completely different. Perhaps we are not telling others about what God has done in order to appease the Lord’s need to be recognized, but instead experiencing and overflow of gratefulness for the ways we have felt and seen and experienced Yahweh’s nearness to us.

Encounter I AM.

Maybe that means pushing away the noise and finding space in which you can hear Yahweh speak to your heart. Or maybe it means leaving yourself open to find Yahweh in the places you’d least expect God to be.

That was my reflection on Psalm 105. Link up with your own thoughts below. And stop back next week when Psalms Journey heads to Psalm 106.

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