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

Let My People Go (Into the Wilderness)

Open gatesScripture Text:  Exodus 5: 1

 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’“

We know the story. The people had been taken away, held in slavery. And now, God is insisting: “Let my people go.” The truth is, it probably wasn’t slavery as we think about it. There were probably not prison bars or shackles or anything of the like. Their slavery may have resembled more of an indentured servant or perhaps an economic enslavement. They could not leave, of course, but not because they were held but because they were bound. It was just as bad and in some cases, it is harder to claim release.

 

So God screams, “Let my people go.” The truth is, maybe God wasn’t worried about the economic enslavement at all. Because, you see, they had been there awhile, a couple of generations if you’re counting. And as generations go on, we forget, we forget who we are. It would have been so incredibly easy to lapse into the Egyptian society. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it would have been easier to do just that. But it wasn’t who they were. Somehow, I think God’s concern was not that they were economically enslaved but that they had forgotten who they were.  In God’s vision, the wilderness, the place where darkness loomed, was better than the place of safety that enslaved the people.

 

SO, does this sound familiar?  We are not enslaved.  We are, however, bound.  We are bound by our lifestyle, by what our life expects us to be.  We are bound by the expectations of others.  We are bound by our plans for what our life holds.  We are bound by what we think we are supposed to be in this world.  We, too, have forgotten who we are.  And, just as God did so long ago, the Divine screams into the night, “Let my people go.”  We are not enslaved in the usual sense.  There are no prison bars and no shackles.  But we are enslaved.  This season of Lent is God’s time, God’s time to scream “let my people go,” and be heard.  And even the wilderness is better than what we have.

 

The wilderness is calling.  The place where we are not bound, where we can finally learn to be free, where  danger meets us and we know that rather turn to the ones who enslave  us, who offer no help in the wilderness, we will finally look to God.  Let us be the ones who finally, once and for all, know that we are offered freedom, freedom, mostly, not from whom holds us, but from the one who we are not.  Let us be the people who, finally, go and be the one that we are meant to be.

 

I think most of the spiritual life is really a matter of relaxing — letting go, ceasing to cling, ceasing to insist on our own way, ceasing to tense ourselves up for this or against that. (Beatrice Bruteau)

 

FOR TODAY:  In what ways are you enslaved?  What would it mean to be let go?  God is waiting to do that.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli