A Heart Without Words
I feel very much aware of God working in my life.
For much of the time this past three days, I didn’t feel anything from God. If anything, I felt what seemed to be absence. A heavy, pointless absence.
I’ve been working on allowing God to work through me in a way that is beyond my comfort zone. I’ve specifically been thinking a lot about how much of me is changed when I try and serve God in this way. I am an introvert and I do appreciate quiet. Reaching out isn’t something that I’d say I naturally desire to do. That being said, I do think that God stretches us and He does want us to do things that we ourselves may not naturally feel inclined to do. I think this has much to do with dying to ourselves everyday, taking up our crosses and finding ourselves dependent on God and his provision. But I do also think that He instilled us with unique mannerisms and personalities and wants us to be true to who we are and who He created us to be. I believe that He intends that we live our lives in a holistic manner. I don’t think that God wants us to be superficial. I do think He wants us to be honest with both ourselves and others.
But I digress.
I had been quite intentional about doing what I thought I should, whether I wanted to or not. I certainly failed many times. One instance I can remember specifically. It had to do with someone making themselves vulnerable to me. This wasn’t during a conversation or any drawn-out situation. It was a split-second happening and a split-second decision. I could have made myself vulnerable as well- which would have been the right thing to do- yet I chose not to. My flesh was pleased- no embarrassment there- but I had fallen short. Which is what we as humans tend to do.
I apologize for the ambiguousness of that example.
But now that it had been done- what was I to do?
“Should I beat myself up over my choice? Should I just forget about it?”
I think that Tozer’s approach is beautifully correct.
“When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”
Later that day, I was a bit frustrated. I wasn’t seeing any positive results from putting myself out there and days of doing this was wearing me out. I went to God with it and resolved to let it be.
That very evening, I was blessed by an amazing woman’s words. A visiting professor spoke in our night class. Of the many things that she said that really resonated with me, one was that if we believe something, we’ll be willing to put our bodies out there for it. She said this in reference to a march that she had attended protesting South Africa’s apartheid policies. She marched with her child clinging to her back. She did this because she wanted him to understand the truth of the physical outcomes of genuine beliefs.
That brought about a small amount of understanding in my mind.
This morning in chapel I was once again blessed by important words. The man who spoke talked about the importance of understanding that there is not a perfect Christian. But there is a perfect Savior. This is why there is meaning in looking towards Christ- keeping your eyes firmly set upon Jesus. He is the source of our strength and our peace and, ultimately, He is where we find the lives that we are to live. We find affirmation in Him, not in others.
That again brought an amount of understanding.
This evening I had the chance to go to Lansing for ESL as I do every week. As we headed out, I felt fairly powerless. I did find solace in the fact that I truly was powerless myself, and if anything was going to happen, it’d be through God. The night really went well. I felt that I was able to connect with the guys in my group. It went smoothly. It was a blessing to be part of.
What really hit me, however, happened afterwards.
I was speaking with the lady in charge of the program, the pastor of that particular church. She asked me how I was and I gave her an honest answer. I was well. And I asked her how she was.
Truly inquiring of persons how they are has been something that I’ve really been working on. Asking is easy but asking with intention is tough. To care, to listen, to simply be aware- I think that’s powerful and meaningful. Like I said, I had been working on that. But as with the other things that I had been doing, I felt my actions had brought about no positive effects. There were no signs that anything was happening. Nothing was telling me that it was worth the effort.
But when I asked this lady how she was, I could immediately see that that was the most important thing that I could have done all day. One simple question. So easily overlooked. I could see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice when she told me that no one else had bothered to ask her how she was. When she told me she didn’t even know how she was.
She had focused on others and asked others and cared about others and put herself out there and- nothing. And it was really wearing on her.
And I knew exactly where she was coming from.
I felt what she felt.
I pray for her. I pray for all-encompassing peace, strength, renewal and direction for her.
Henri Nouwen says that no two humans experience sorrow in the same way. I think that he is right.
But I also think that we can truly empathize with others. And that moment with that pastor made all of those other moments- all of those other times when I felt that I sacrificed to no avail- make sense.
You don’t know when you’re going to get through.
But God wants us to be willing to put ourselves out there.
To put others before ourselves.
To depend on Him.
To grow in Him.
To move over and let Him.
I think that this is what God is working on teaching me. To do good, even if it isn’t appreciated. Because it often won’t be. But that doesn’t make it “not good”.
I can only do so much. But when I give my aims and intentions to God, He is able to accomplish things so much more beautiful and pure than anything driven by my own selfish ambition.
Thank you for your presence today God.
“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”