Posts Tagged ‘resting is spiritual’

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was built in 10th Century in Jerusalem and dedicated by Solomon to Yahweh.  

One of the more fascinating historical notes about the construction stands out.

In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

 1 Kings 6:7

God, our God, often builds his temples in quietness, because God, despite all the hollering from Christians about him, is a quiet God. 

God dresses blocks in one place, so he he can quietly place them in another.

I called my dad one day last year. I was missing him. 

I caught him up on us, then I asked him what he had been thinking about.

He had been thinking about the “quietness of God’s presence.”

I asked him, “Dad, what does that mean?”

He said, “I often can’t sleep at night. I wake up. I don’t know what to do so I just enter the quietness of his presence.” 

“I don’t say anything. I don’t pray. I just silently worship.” 

“I’m dumb before him.”

Years ago, as I was finishing up at the University, I felt far from God. Lonely. Confused. Uncertain of my future. I began reading the Bible. I was drawn to Isaiah 30:15. This became a very personal word from God to me, speaking to exactly my issue.  

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …'”

Lately I’ve suffered some serious health problems. As a result I’ve experienced some very significant levels of pain. At times there have been a whole nursery of babies crying inside of me.

I’ve done a lot striving to connect to God to fix my situation, to move my health forward, to get back to normal. This is something all praying people do. Rightly so, we are told in the Bible to bring our sickness and problems to God, to seek, ask and knock, but too often our approach to God isn’t healthy or helpful. We don’t knock on his door. We bang on his door. We pound it down. We break in in our demands for the life and body and health and activities that we want. We want God to enable our plans and then — although we won’t admit it much — step politely out of our way so we can get on with our work.

This isn’t just a personal issue. A lot of churches are set up this way. They are on a mission to control God for their own good, to enlist Him to help them win the culture wars, to use him to hammer the deviant, to chisel at God’s words as a way of promoting its own political agenda. This kind of blunt-force approach to the way forward is motivated by our efforts to  move the church up and to the right on the field of public success. It’s ecclesiastical egotism. The agenda is to get more people, to take in more money and to promote politics of privilege that protect the church while not worrying if any ones else around the world is protected. It’s political stealth, physical health, a bunch of wealth and get some for myself.

I’m not saying the church shouldn’t want to do well, be excellent, succeed.  I’m not saying the church shouldn’t look to God to guide us and to make us well. I’m not saying I shouldn’t ask God to help me.

But a bunch of begging, a lot of trying to force an our agenda on God, the big push for the quick fix, the big push for the big fix, looking for the perfect road map that makes all  road blocks go away — perhaps that is a recipe for being disappointed in God. There are are some big moments in life where God comes though for us and his church in big ways, but that isn’t the whole story or even the typical story.

Perhaps what I need, and we need, the most is the sound of “sheer silence” as God builds his temples the way he wants. The American church has lived the loud Christian life of the hammer and the chisel. We’ve lived pound, pound, pound, push, push, push. It may have done some good, certainly the church is God’s chosen way to love the world, even the imperfect church, but wow! Our passions are too often too selfish.  

What we need now, and maybe more back when too  — and what I need now —  is not more begging, more controlling, more work, more progress, more pushing, more kingdom building or more empire building.  Perhaps what we need is simply this: A quiet resting before the divine. What does God want to do? How does God want to build? Can we quietly wait on God for his quiet language, his silent leading?

Thomas Keating has said that in “order to understand [God’s silent language] we ourselves must learn to be silent and to rest in God.”

Yes.

In God’s loving silence there is perhaps much more than we know or expect —  his presence, healing, rebuilding, affirmation, care, his a way forward, his love.

Recently, in my physical struggles my wife has been present for me, holding me, patting me, just being in the same room with me. She has said some sweet things, but nothing has meant as much as her presence, her quiet loving presence there in the room.

God silent, loving presence — we all could use more of that.