Our Father,we know that Thou art present with us, but our knowledge is but a figure and shadow of truth and has little of the spiritual savor and inward sweetness such knowledge should afford. This is for us a great loss and the cause of much weakness of heart. Help us to make at once such amendment of life as is necessary before we can experience the true meaning of the words, ”In thy presence is fulness of joy.” Amen
The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer
The past week has found me in an shadowy place. Something like a valley or the dark overhang of a rock. Maybe on the shore of a still, stagnant pool. My journey has been overshadowed by the terrible news that surrounds me; my meditations have been haunted and distracted by so many events I don’t understand. And, if I am going to be honest here, I have found myself staring into the eyes of a truth I don’t want to face.
It seems every time I pull up the BBC I am confronted with tragedy and pain. It is not mine and it is not personal but it breaks my heart a little bit and catalyzes me to reach out and try to trust a God that I can’t see. I have to sit down and think hard on the things I believe to be true: that God really does so love the world, that the kingdom is here and that it is expanding, that the seraphim and the angels still sing, ”the whole earth is full of His glory.”
Recently I have found it difficult to carry on in the face of fear. Last week I was with the kids on the beach in the fading light of the sun. Behind me there was a slowly growing group of men smoking pot and joking together. It is not uncommon to see and I had two dogs with me, one of which is plenty intimidating when she wants to be. But I heard a comment from one of the men and it made my skin crawl. And it brought back the fear. The fear I lived with for much of last summer. Fear of the unknown and the unstoppable. Fear that made me want to cut ties and run away. Fear that I carried tangibly until the high season started and I became distracted enough to forget. I remember the exact moment when I decided I could cram it down inside and stop thinking about it, stop feeling it.
This week, as I watch the unbelievable become reality in so many parts of the world and with people who I know and love, I have finally put my finger on the painful, shameful reality of what this fear is: fear that God might allow it to be me and my family this time. And I’ve been confronted with the impossible question: do I believe that if something unspeakable happens to me or mine we will still be found in the hands of God?
I cry out with the father of the demon possessed boy, ”I believe, help my unbelief.”
I pray along with Walter Brueggemann,
”Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.”
We are no strangers to the falling apart;
We perpetrate against the center of our lives,
and on some days it feels
like an endless falling,
like a deep threat,
like a rising water,
like ruthless wind.
But you…you in the midst,
you back in play,
you rebuking and silencing and ordering,
you creating restfulness in the very eye of the storm.
You…be our center:
cause us not to lie about the danger,
cause us not to resist your good order.
Be our God. Be the God you promised,
and we will be among the those surely peaceable in you order.
We pray in the name of the one through whom all things hold together. Amen
Prayer in class/January 8, 1998
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth, Prayers of Walter Brueggemann