Not that he ever ISN'T but this was one of those times where I was actually somewhat cognizant of just what God was up to.
Only a few days ago, I had written about how I felt my soul has been cryonically frozen. It seems like God decided to start the thawing process sooner than expected.
Friday, I went to a MuteMath concert and if you aren't familiar, go check them out...they are an amazing group of musicians. I talked to a girl in between the opener and the main act about my favorite song on the newest album. Mine was the last one, which was about (in my interpretation) how we who grow up in religious households often lose the faith of our childhoods, but don't worry, "we can get it back."
After the concert, I had a conversation with my friend about life and faith. I shared with him my struggle of the past few years to see how God is working in my everyday life.
Today I went back to my former church, Hot Metal because Catalyst was off for the weekend. This was cool on several levels: it was nice to be back after a long hiatus, and it so happened that a woman named Emma, who my church has been praying for healing for the past 4 years, shared some words with us today.
The brief story on Emma: we were on a mission trip in Mexico in 2008 and she had a terrible accident that caused her to flip backwards out of a cattle truck. She miraculously survived, but has been plagued for the past 4 years by constant searing headaches. She recently had brain surgery to hopefully finally rectify what was wrong with her head.
Her talk explained how she was grateful for the continuing miracle of the surgery and hopeful recovery (she's not out of the woods yet - it's a slow process), but she mentioned that part of what she was learning was that God showed her blessing both through the valleys and the high times. Her worry was that in yearning for a better day later she was missing how God was in her life in the present suffering. She quoted Chardin as saying:
"...in all these dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is You (provided only my faith is strong enough) who is painfully parting the fibers of my being in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself."
I was very affected by her words and how they connected to the message in the book of Job that morning: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"
Later that afternoon, as I was sitting in my car listening to the rain hit the roof, I felt compelled to reread the first chapters of Richard Foster's book on Prayer. I have been at a point for a few years now where I struggle with even being able to pray (so I've only gotten through the first chapters).
I hit this passage (it's too poignant to not include the whole thing):
"How do we practice Simple Prayer? What do we do? Where do we begin? Very simply, we begin right where we are: in our families, on our jobs, with our neighbors and friends. Now, I wish this did not sound so trivial, because, on the practical level of knowing God, it is the most profound truth we will ever hear. To believe that God can reach us and bless us in the ordinary junctures of daily life is the stuff of prayer. We want to throw this away, so hard is it for us to believe that God would enter our space. “God can't bless me here,” we moan. “When I graduate…” “When I’m the chairman of the board…” “When I’m the president of the company…” “When I’m the senior pastor…then God can bless me.” But you see, the only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are!
Do you remember Moses at the burning bush? God had to tell him to take off his shoes—he did not know he was on holy ground. And if we can just come to see that right where we are is holy ground---in our jobs and homes, with our co-workers and friends and families. This is where we learn to pray."
I include this because Emma made a comment talking about her struggles being "holy ground". Where we are standing right now is holy ground! If I truly start believing that, how differently I would approach my living!
And so the spiritual thaw continues... Ever so slowly, but I hope to remain patient, because as Emma said, "So much happens in the waiting." Why would I long so much for 'wholeness' that I miss how God is very real and present in my messy life right now? There's a process to go through and the only way to the other side is through it. And the important thing is that I don't miss God now. If I can't see the Holy One here and now, in the valleys and plateaus, how do I truly appreciate his presence in the high places?