Good insights on prayer from Brian that got me thinking…
What would God say to me?
How would God actually respond if He was walking beside me, here in my neighborhood, listening to my verbal vomit? How would He reply to my claims, my grievances, my confessions, my version of the story? What would He discern between the lines? What truths would He point out, and which ones would He leave for another time? What questions would He ask me? What council would He offer? What would He say?
In my neighborhood I live in constant danger of any moment finding myself sharing a curb, or a nearby cafe table, or a place in line which exposes me to a certain indigenous species of oral predator who, if offered even accidental eye contact, will seize me in conversation and proceed to vomit forth an unceasing monologue, a narrative of complaint following some gnostic logic known only to themselves, which will, if I can contrive no escape, consume my entire afternoon. I feel an excruciating angst when cornered like this. I’m pinned between the agony of being bludgeoned by unceasing sentences and a desire to not be rude. I choose one of two responses. The first is when their narrative almost, but not quite, makes sense. In this case I find myself engaging the conversation against my better judgment, their half-logic like a will-o-wisp tempting me ever deeper into the woods. When I realize to my dismay that I am lost in the forest, hemmed in by an impenetrable thicket, I shrink into a pathetic ball of mm’s and huh’s, while anxiously scanning the horizon for some pause, some nano-second sliver of daylight in the monolithic tirade, my chance to make a break for it. The second option is to be rude right off the bat, to clearly and unmistakably abort the conversation. I am always surprised, when I opt for the latter response, at how well my assailant takes it. No reproach, no attack. Their fixation on me simply ceases, and they move on, presumably to find other prey. The disconnect is actually unnerving, it’s so complete.
I read the Bible, and in it I find an image of God. I can discern something about His character—He is just, He is truthful, He is wise, He is merciful, He is faithful, He is patient. I can learn something about His attitude towards believers who cry out to Him—that He hears, that He understands, that He cares, that He loves, forgives, disciplines. And I can know something about His plans for me—plans to prosper me, plans to complete His good work in me, plans to heal me, plans to bear much fruit in and through me. That’s an image of God for me to keep in mind, as I wonder what He would say to me, walking here beside me through my neighborhood, listening to me spill my guts.
Because left to myself I always imagine God in my own image. I see Him standing on the curb minding His own business when He accidentally meets my eye. Suddenly He is plunged beneath an outrageous cataract of unceasing, indecipherable and uninvited verbiage. I imagine Him forced to choose one of two responses—a half-hearted attempt to make sense of me while looking for an escape, or a curt and despising silence. And wouldn’t He be justified under the intolerable strafe of my monomaniacal tirade? And wouldn’t He feel the same chagrin at how quickly, how completely my attention drops from Him? Wouldn’t He be utterly bewildered and put off by this crazy person?
My understanding of You is so stunted by my own image. Please walk here beside me, and help me to see You as You are.