Whisper

I’ve been ill again.  I don’t say that to evoke your sympathy.  It’s not a life-threatening illness.  At least, I don’t think it is.  Asthmatic bronchitis is not uncommon and there are any number of effective treatments for it.

Feeling better today, I told the Lovely Lady I think I’ll live.  Immediately, I remembered what the ultimate end of all mankind will be, and I added the phrase at least, until I die.

She was not amused.  Of course, she needs me well, so she can get back to her regular work schedule of only sixty hours a week.  I have left her in the lurch.  She’s not amused–I’m not happy.

I’m going to admit something I may regret later.  While I understand that my illness is quite treatable and am even now waiting for medication to effect its curative function, I confess that I get a little discouraged (and maybe a little angry) while I’m waiting. 

In the dark and by myself, I feel helpless.  You see, I’ve prayed that I’ll be free from this particular thorn in the flesh on numerous occasions over the years, but still it knocks me down periodically. 

I wonder why God doesn’t hear me.

Where are you God?

I would have shouted the words, had I the breath to do so today, but satisfied myself with whimpering them plaintively toward the ceiling in the den.

There was no answer.

He’s not here, is He? 

I asked myself the question and then shuddered at the implications.

Pushing up from my recliner, I went up the steps to the dining room.  The result was the same there.  Nothing.  Living Room–Kitchen?  Still nothing.

It’s a beautiful home, even if it is small.  Surely, God would want to live in such an attractive abode.  But, I’m pretty sure I never heard Him answer from the walls of any of those rooms.

I went back to my chair and flopped down, gasping a little. 

Disappointed, I sat for a moment.  Only a moment.  It seemed to be just a little brighter in the room as I considered the glimmer of truth which was gradually coming to my consciousness. 

Not too many years ago I went to an event, described as a house blessing, for some close friends.  Their denomination allows for such things, reading scripture, then blessing each room in turn, before calling for God’s presence in the home.  I expected to feel different when I left.  I didn’t.

I remember thinking that’s not how it works

I also remember some friends on the other end of the spectrum of faith who had someone come in and do a service to cast out the evil spirits from their home.  The assumption was, again, that God would come and fill that space, recently vacated by the bad things.

I wasn’t there.  I’m not going to get into an argument about exorcism, nor even about blessing houses.

I just know what is truth.  Straight from Him.

Truth.

God doesn’t live in buildings.  Why would he want to inhabit dead, inanimate things made of brick, and wood, and steel?

Ah.  Now you know what that glimmer bursting into flame earlier was, don’t you?

God lives in His people.  Weak–strong.  Old–young.  Women–men.

Inside this weak, sick man, gasping for breath on a warm, summer day, the Creator has taken up His abode. 

Inside the old man down the street from me, overtaken by blindness, God sees clearly exactly what he needs. 

In the soul of my friend, awaiting word from her oncologist giving her the bad/good news about the result of her latest PET scan, He is not surprised nor panicked.  He sees all paths and knows all ends. 

And, He lives inside of us.

Do you think He doesn’t feel the despair? 

Do you assume He doesn’t understand my anger?

Do you suppose He doesn’t hear the frightened petitions? 

By bigbirdz (Flickr: Prayer: Mother and Daughter) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsWould you imagine He is unmoved by our cries?

He lives in us!

So.  I’m done yelling at the ceiling.

Now, I begin to understand that song we used to sing when we were children.  Maybe it’s time to whisper our prayers to Him again.

Just a whisper.

Inside voice will work just fine.

 

 

 

Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.
(from Mere Christianity ~ C.S. Lewis ~ Irish born teacher/author ~ 1898-1963)

 

 

Whisper a prayer in the morning.
Whisper a prayer at noon.
Whisper a prayer in the evening,
To keep your heart in tune.
(Anonymous)

 

 

Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands…
(Acts 7:48a ~ ESV)

 

 

 

 

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “Whisper

  1. As someone who is now in a tradition that blesses houses, I’ve thought a lot about that idea. What if it’s not about getting God to do something or be somewhere he wouldn’t otherwise be, but about helping us to recognize his existing presence or actions around us? That’s how our church articulates the concept of sacraments: “an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible truth”. It is a means through which we can be drawn into thinking about, and recognizing, that truth about God’s presence – if we’re willing to participate in the exercise that is. It takes participation, just as the Eucharist (Communion) does. The motions and words are not necessarily something in themselves, but can be a medium to help our limited understandings with physical hints and signs. Those are my current thoughts about it anyway.

    As we consider this idea, we might also think of Paul’s conversation with the Athenian philosophers: “For in him we live and move and have our being.” This reminds me of some who apply recent quantum physics findings to theology, showing that most of matter is made up of empty space, and that what we touch and feel and interact with is more about energy and relationships than it is “solid things”. In fact, even our “living flesh” recycles molecules constantly (full replacement every 8 years!), using the same building blocks as animals, rocks, plants, and even drywall and steel (or stars!). So maybe God cares about his creation in a far broader sense than just humans? One theologian I’ve read recently described the idea of pan-en-theism: that we all exist within God (in contrast to pan-theism where god exists within things). In more traditional language, you could still say that God is transcendent in that he is not contained by the universe as we know it, yet he is also fully immanent and with us constantly. In a way, this could be seen as confirming and expanding on what you said about God within us.

    I’ve also been thinking a lot in the last week about where we find God, and came up with a similar conclusion to yours about people. As we look at the two great commandments, we are to “love God” and “love others”. Given that loving God is such a difficult concept (for me at least) to understand and take action on as physical beings in a physical world, what if the second half of the commandment is to give us instructions on how we love God: by loving others as ourselves. Maybe it’s in and through our relationships and our community that we experience God, and bring others into an experience of God?

    More and more, I see God as someone who is with us through our suffering, not one who necessarily takes us out of it or puts us in it. Even when we don’t sense him, he’s there. Practices that remind us of his presence can be helpful (hat tip to Brother Lawrence), maybe similar to that house blessing (I would tend to think that the exorcising may have the opposite effect of having us focus away from God).

    And if at certain moments, in the midst of extreme pain or abandonment, we cannot recognize the reality of God, God can still reveal himself to us through our community if we will let them. I love this testimony on that: http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/losing-my-faith (warning, I can’t watch this without crying).

    Sorry for the length. You stirred up some thinking-out-loud. I hope the ideas are somewhat relevant or interesting. Thanks for the post, it was good.

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