Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Be Weak and Know

At this moment my dog is limping, my legs are aching, my butt is itching, the kids are fighting, my parents' health is failing, and the sky is raining. Does anyone else feel that assaults just keep coming one after the other to you and the people you love? Maybe its just because I'm a "grown up" now (I hope!), and I'm more aware of the struggles of life, but I don't think life was this hard twenty years ago.
Think of your friends. I used to avoid "crisis" people. You know, the ones who always seem to be struggling with something. It happens so often you wonder if they don't create some of their mess. Or at least look comfortable sitting in their pigpen (I think of the Peanuts character "Pig Pen.") But now, those crisis people seem to be us! If I get victory in my marriage, then my parents fall apart. If my health improves, then one of my kids breaks out in some mysterious rash, or the dishwasher shuts down, and then the van dies. Three of my closest friends have unexplainable physical problems. Another three have heartbreaks in their families with prodigal children. Often others are crying on the other end of the phone line that they just don't know how to go on. Wouldn't it be easier to pull up the covers and disappear?
In the midst of the whirlwind, we're encouraged to "be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10). That phrase often conjures up bucolic (cool word-look it up) scenes in my minds' eye of restful shepherds strumming on harps in open fields. And yet "still" is last thing I feel and the last thing I think I can work toward. The world screams loud. My pain drowns out the "still, small voice of My Beloved." How God do I find you in the fire?
The Message even paraphrases this verse: "Step out of the traffic-take a long loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything." Yet I wonder if God is right in the middle of the gridlock? So I looked again at the verse. Only this time I looked to the Hebrew language. I found my Key Word Study Bible and found the word for "still" in the Hebrew- "rapah." I was stunned as I read all the other definitions of this little word. Fifteen definitions and 29 references, not including our "still" passage. If you search, you'll hear it screamed out of Pharaoh's mouth in Exodus 5:8 as well as in the pleading voices of Isaiah and Jeremiah.
My paraphrase goes something like this:
"Be weak, despondent and useless,
terrified, abandoned and alone
and know that I AM God."
It may seem strange, but I can sink down into that couch. I pull God's warm blanket of seeing me in the mess and know that He is right in the middle of all my loose ends. The expanded definition of "rapah" involves a sense of being completely discouraged. I picture the Israelites sunk down to the ground, hands and heads hanging limp, feeling forgotten, at their wits' end. This word describes their terror at coming judgment and their absolute sense that there is nothing they can do. BUT God, says take a long, loving look at who I AM. I am in control, I am good, I am willing, and I AM powerful while the world is swirling around you and within you.
We don't have to wait until life calms down into a pool of quiet water before we can find God. Or He can find us. I'd love to know what is swirling around you right now . . .

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