I brush my daughter’s arm with my hand while we’re sitting in church, our eyes meet and she knows what I’m saying without words. Stop playing with your hair, its distracting me from the sermon.
I’m hanging on to every word he says because I’m feeling desperate for a phrase, a word, a song, a paragraph, a comet to land and split the roof open. Anything to help me understand why I’m here. And just when I’m doing the self-talk, wondering if I should just let her be herself, braid her damp hair in church, the pastor says it.
God is silent in the bible more than He speaks. While He is silent, He is never still.
Journals stack full of conversations with Him on my desk. Whispers of hope and purpose and future all written down in black and blue. I’m re-reading them, quite a lot lately. Because when He speaks, it changes me.
But right now, it feels like I’m stuck among a five-lane pile-up during rush hour in Los Angeles. I’ve been sitting in the hot car so long; I forgot where I’m going. And He’s in one of his more familiar moods – not very talkative. It doesn’t mean He has nothing to say.
Then the pastor, he reminds me that God usually speaks when we least expect it.
Levi met Jesus in the line behind his desk spread out with ledgers, calculators and a moneybox. Instead of talking taxes, Jesus leans over, looks him in the eyes and says, “Follow Me.” And Levi, he did. He folded up all his books in his brief case and left those people standing in line. (Luke 5:27)
God told Abraham to leave everything: the family home, all the ancestors parked on the lawn for a family cookout, the acres of land beyond them dotted cows and sheep. I can’t imagine that, but Abraham, he did it. (Genesis 12)
While Moses walks heavy with guilt about killing that Egyptian, God shows up in a burning bush and tells him to lead five million Israelites out of Egypt for forty years. And after Moses airs all his self-doubt, his reasons why he isn’t the guy for the job, he does it. (Exodus 3)
Because contact with God, it changes us, transforms us into the people we can’t imagine.
I know this isn’t exactly how each of these stories pans out, but my contemporary version, it helps wash away the despair and hopelessness that falls in the cracks sometimes and tries to grow there. I’m Moses with all the reasons why, desperate to see with binocular vision.
Following Jesus at a moment’s notice must’ve gone well for Levi. He threw Jesus a dinner party and included every sinner he knew on the guest list. And all those church people at the party? They had a fit about it. And Jesus’ response?
“Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:31, MSG
I’m reciting the benediction in a whisper through the lump in my throat now. He’s here in the room for me, an outsider with a broken heart. And just like the silent exchange between my daughter and me over her hair twirling, we don’t need words to know He speaks.
Whenever he chooses to talk to me, I’m saying yes.
Counting gifts today with Ann because I this changes me:
For the rumble of thunder at sunset, a period to the day’s end
A stack of finds at our local used bookstore, like excavating hidden treasure.
Laughing with my daughter while she makes bracelets and I take a writing break.
Five opportunities to guest post with wonderful friends.
Dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.