(This is a repost of an earlier article. I had a request to post it again, and since we’re coming up on Christmas I figured it wouldn’t hurt. Enjoy.)
“If holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and re-create the human heart because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully.”
-Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark
I’ve been wrestling with a lot of life questions lately, lots of prayer, soul searching, looking for direction, and through it all I have had an overwhelming sence of…. silence. It has seemed that God isn’t doing anything to help.. no prompting, no direction, no comfort, no answers… just silence… and the silence of God has changed my life.
I no longer have faith in God.
I no longer have faith in God because, by definition, ‘faith’ is trusting in something you cannot be certain of; like parachutes, scuba tanks or bungee cords. It’s taking a chance, going out on a limb, craziness. It takes more faith to take your seat on a 737 or let some nurse give you a “flu” shot than it does to know God.
I have no faith in God because I know that God is.
…and that knowledge has become terrifying.
God is here. Always. Even in the hollow, echoing silences. Moving, invisably, to accomplish something I, we, cannot understand. God does not come down to us, impart some hint or shadow of direction to us then return to wherever He came from leaving us to fill in the blanks… He hangs just over our shoulders, watching, listening, and whispering in our ears when we are finally ready for the next clue, turning our heads or opening our eyes when we are finally ready for the next fleeting glimpse of the realworld. Likewise, he never tells us how to change then step back to watch us try to do it… He stays, hand on our hearts, minds, souls, squeezing ever so slowly untill we are choked out, untill we are broken open, untill we are left in utter, excruciating pain writhing on the ground before Him, screaming at the Light burning through us because we cannot begin to understand what is happening. We cannot escape.
Silence? Would a surgeon try to explain what is hapening as he stitches in the new heart? God has no need to explain Himself to us… would we even understand if He tried?
You’ve heard the expression “a snake in the grass” to describe something sinister, something evil in the midst of something innocent… I’ve been searching for a word to describe the opposite, something so completely perfect and holy moving secretly in the midst of the common and profane.
We celebrate the birth of a baby, do we have any idea what was actually happening? The Power, Wrath, Love and Glory of God bursting through the veil into our filthy world in the form of a baby… something nobody would ever expect or suspect. The Power always surrounding us… now visable. A single, lasting message to us all that we are never alone. That God is, and that He will stop at nothing to bring us home, nothing can stand in His way, we cannot hide. When the world was most dark He walked among us. Silence? The simple fact of his presence was greater than any fear we could have known.
I am learning to see now. God is not speaking to me. He is not pushing me in any certain direction. There is silence because He is letting me see. Knowing that God is has changed my life. With every breath we take the veil between this world and the next begins to grow more thin. The echoing silences are not empty. The dark places of this life begin to break and tear and wear away to let in slivers of light that I cannot understand or explain or deny. I have no answers to the questions of life, but those questions are growing less important. I am no longer asking “how is God going to fix this?”, but rather, “what will I be when He brings me through to the other side?” Six months from now God will still be here, and so will I although not as the same person. A year after that I will be still more different, five years, 20 years, when the veil has grown fifty years more thin God will still be breaking, healing, and breaking again…
Christmas wasn’t about a baby, it was about the awsome, terrifying presence of God and the ways we would be forever changed. At Christmas we don’t celebrate the birth of a baby, we celebrate the simple, invisable ways God sneaks into the dark and explodes into beautiful light.