At the service end, I kneel, then sprawl, across the altar steps, begging, sobbing, praying, "Speak to me, Lord. I miss you so." I linger to pour the full burden of my thirsty soul into the bowl of incense. When I rise, my ears are deafened by still more silence, my heart spent but my soul still longing.
As Monday gives way to Thursday, my bible, too, remains silent, mocking from the kitchen counter, the Bread stale beside the thrice-used-daily table setting waiting confidently for the next full plate to be delivered and consumed. And I was waiting, too, in his silence, for Him to consume my prayer.
That weekend found me in the bookstore, and my aimless wandering delivered me to the bible study section, where I noticed one with a spiral binding.
"The better with which to write comfortably your thoughts, your answers, the questions," it called out luringly.
I reached for it and dropped my purse and myself right there in the isle. As I swung the pages open, God began to speak.
"See the written words on the page?"
"Yes, Lord," I choke out, because conversations with God are always accompanied by a large heavy lump in my throat that will not be swallowed.
"They are the words of another; they can be neglected."
I look, and I listen, and my spirit's mouth waters with realization that my long thirst is about to be met by Living Water, flowing again at last. I don't steel myself against it; it has been too long awaited. I open myself vulnerably to be ravished by the flood of Him right there on the floor in the store.
"See all the blank places, Child?"
"Empty space awaits your words, your scribbled questions, and answers, and your love letters, prayers, your heart," He says.
His words pound in my heart. I feel his breath over me, and I hear his voice and cling to it, when I hear Him whisper, "And I have missed you, Beloved."
The tidal wave of Word comes strong and powerful and quiet. "I have written to you as well, all these things: My questions, the Answer, My heart and prayer for you. Eat it - this Bread will nourish your hungry heart. I have prepared the banqueting table before your enemies. Remember? Eat and be satisfied by Me . . . and respond in the empty places."
The discipline of His silence and His words achieve their goal. I buy the book and accept His invitation hungrily. I begin to partake of a thanksgiving dinner more like a starving orphan than a royal heir.
Last night our family gathered, as we do nightly to read together, and read from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis. We are still early on in the story, and Eustace is not at all pleased to find himself at sea on the Dawn Treader. He is seasick and blames it on a non-existent storm, acts indignant to mask his fear and complaints, and begins a sea journal to record his experiences at sea. This is the beginning of his first entry:
August 7th. Have now been twenty-four hours on this ghastly boat if it isn't a dream. All the time a frightful storm has been raging (it's a good thing I'm not seasick). Huge waves keep coming in over the front and I have seen the boat nearly go under any number of times. All the others pretend to take no notice of this, either from swank or because Harold [his uncle] says one of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to Facts.
My eyes fly open and my heart plummets. I am Eustace, whose own eyes were shut to the Facts, to Truth Himself. The wisdom from his uncle he piously received and applied to others rather than himself. Cowardly and ordinary surely describe someone else. But they don't describe Someone Else - Him.
My thirst and God's silence come to mind. Then the grace invitation to draw near in my empty spaces and be fed. And my heart sees itself with eyes wide open in the mirror of His word and the error of my way.
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