Yearning to Fill a Restless Heart

Reaching for GodScripture Passage (Psalm 85:8)

8Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

 

So, we’re on this journey, a journey toward who we are meant to be, a journey toward God with God, a journey where we are searching for God. The truth is, God is not lost. God is not up ahead waiting for us to catch up or up above waiting for us to clean up our act so we’ll get there! God is here and has been here all along, from the beginning (actually, even BEFORE the beginning). Actually, God IS the beginning (and the end and the middle and all the stuff around it.) So what exactly is this journey? What is our spiritual walk that we try so hard to maintain?

 

Maybe we need to go back to the basics. For what is it that you hunger? What brings you life? What gives you energy? All those questions are really close to the same. They all have to do with sustenance, with filling what is empty and satisfying what is wanting. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” That’s our story—we are not evil; we are not bad; we are not unrighteous or ungodly or un-whatever; and we are certainly not “only human”. (I hate that…Jesus was human, fully human, so there’s no “only” about it. Maybe we’re inhumane sometimes, (maybe a lot!) but we’re not “only” human.) We’re not any of those things. We are beloved. God made us. We are part of God. But we just haven’t found our place yet. We are not bad; we are restless. We know there is something more. Our heart knows it. Our heart knows that there is an emptiness and a wanting that we almost cannot bear. It is that “God-shaped hole” again. Our hunger, our emptiness tells us that in our deepest being, we desire to be with God, to walk with God. And God, in God’s infinite love, is at the root of that hunger.

 

And so we journey. We walk and we walk and we walk and we search and we search and we search. This IS our spirituality. This IS our journey. This IS our Way. We all have it. Some of us struggle with it, muddying it with materialism and prejudice and fear that we will lose control or lose what we have. And some of us somehow, by God’s grace, actually travel further than we dared, into the unknown, into the wilderness. It is always a bit of a struggle, even for those that seem have their spirituality all together. If it wasn’t, then God would have just filled our heart and then hardened it up so it couldn’t go anywhere and never made the world at all. But God made us to journey, called us to journey, called us to search and wander and to, somehow, along the way, learn to trust that our real desire is to be with God, to fill our hearts with God and to, finally, have peace (not to be righteous, not to be holy, not to be perfectly and fully-versed in the ways of God, not to be the “best” at spirituality—just to have peace).

 

Our journey, our spiritual walk, is the way that God relates to us and the way we respond. It’s a dance. And the best dancers do not drag their partners across the floor or dance in front or over those in the line. The best dancers understand the rhythm that is not theirs but to which they belong. There are no easy directions to your spiritual journey. You will not find this in a self-help book. There is no quick fix, no shortcut, no road that is better paved or with less traffic. The Way is yours and God’s. And as you dance, your heart fills, and when it is full to what you thought was the brim, to the place where you cannot imagine it can fill anymore, you will find that you only yearn for God.

 

You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness. You sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for you. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with longing for your peace. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

 

Thank you for sharing your Lenten journey with me!

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli

When the Lord Spoke in the Wilderness

 

 

Traveling in the WildernessScripture Text:  Numbers 9: 1-3

The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: 2Let the Israelites keep the passover at its appointed time. 3On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its regulations you shall keep it.

Well, we’ve been wandering in the wilderness awhile.  Have you heard God speak to you yet?  If not, maybe we’re still not traveling light enough, still dragging baggage with us over the rough terrain, so afraid that we will be without something.  I, personally, am a terrible over-packer.  It’s not so much that I’m afraid to be without something; it really has more to do with preparation.  In my swirling life, if I wait until the last minute to pack (which I often do), I end up just throwing things in a bag.  Without taking the time to think things through, I tend to over-compensate.  And, more times than not, the bag that I planned to bring turns out not to be big enough or I have to add another bag.

The wilderness requires preparation.  The wilderness requires that we be intentional about what it is we do.  Why do you think God was so specific about the preparations for the Passover?  The Scripture doesn’t say to make sure you cram the Passover into your schedule once a year at a time when it’s convenient or when the weather is right or when you can find time on the church schedule.  Sometimes living our faith is NOT convenient.  Sometimes it gets in the way of our plans and our lives.  Thanks be to God!

Traveling in our wilderness requires that we pack light, that we leave ourselves nimble and with enough room for what we find.  The truth is, God is always speaking to us in the wilderness.  God is always speaking to us everywhere.  But in the wilderness, unencumbered by our baggage, we finally hear.  In the wilderness, we have to be aware, we have to be prepared, we have to present.  The way we prepare for the wilderness, the way we be present in the wilderness is to become aware of everything, to hear every sound as if it was our first sound, to taste the dust as it flies up and makes its way between our lips, to feel the thirst in every molecule of our body, to know what we need and to, finally, need it.  Preparing to travel light, preparing to feel, preparing to thirst is how will finally pay attention to the God who has been speaking all along.

On this Lenten journey, I hope that you have packed well and only brought what you truly need.  I hope that your bag is light enough for you to keep moving, to be prepared to encounter God at every turn.  Martin Buber said that “all actual life is encounter.”  The wilderness journey will teach us what we need.  In the drought, we will learn to thirst.  The wilderness teaches us to encounter; the wilderness teaches us how to live.

All your love, your your stretching out, your hope, your thirst, God is creating in you so that God may fill you…God is on the inside of the longing.  (Maria Boulding)

FOR TODAY:  Set your baggage down and listen…just listen.  Feel your hunger; feel your thirst.  Encounter God.

Grace and Peace,

Shelli