"O that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
O that with an iron pen and with lead
they were engraved on a rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth;
and after my skin has been thus destroyed,
then in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see on my side,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another."
Last fall I offered a meditative session to our youth gathering called “Give and Take.” The object was to engage our senses through tactile learning. We collectively wrote our Thanksgivings on a pumpkin that sat on the center of a table. Then we picked up a rock that was inscribed with something we wished to take with us, whether it was something we needed to hold and pray for ourselves, or to pass on to another. The tactile engagement with our thoughts and prayers made them real and relavent. They became tangible and alive. Last night I met a friend who attended that gathering and she said, ” I still carry that rock with me, you know.” I didn’t know, and my heart smiled.
Inscribed in each and every one of us, like the hope inscribed on those Thanksgiving stones, is the love of our living God never wavering, solid and true. Here for us now, for all whom we touch, and for generations to come. Like Job, however, in our human angst and uncertain world, knowledge of God’s love and presence alone sometimes fails to provide us the needed comfort we long for. It is heart-wrenching to watch someone you love suffer, or to bear witness to injustice, trauma, illness or grief. These are the times we reach for a mediator, a friend, a loved one to ease our cries; searching for that hug, touch, or simple nod of understanding. Like the inscribed stone, they draw us closer to our living God, awakening in us the sense of God’s presence. Yes, I know there are those who suffer in darkness, alone yearning for a like soul. They too may be touched by the inscripted surrender to God.
Job’s inscription placed for generations to plead his case before God and to make known his strong faith even in the midst of his own confusion and pain gives us an awareness of the smallness of our own humanity. How often do we wrestle for the reasoning of God? How often do we beg for God’s intervention in an unjust world and wonder why so much sufferring is abound? Starvation and homelessness, war, violence, abuse, neglect, greed, power and destruction leave us with heavy hearts and open wounds, begging, yearning for God’s intervention. Is God lying dormant, silent and still or have we simply become so overwhelmed by the darkness and uncertainty of the world that we fail to see the living God among us? Like Job our pain in a sufferring world is valid and true, but also like Job we must hold steadfast in Faith, trusting that our Redeemer lives and opening our hearts to receiving God’s blessing.
Upon my return from a short trip to Aruba last month I found myself depressed. I am not where I expected to be when I first planned the trip. I await a call and bills are mounting. I find myself occasionally wondering if what God has planned for me I’ve all ready completed. I’m cranky and weep with a trusted few. I pray, I paint, I make art and keep busy in the house. My happiest days are Sundays. presiding over the Eucharist, breaking bread and being in communion and fellowship with all who seek Christ. I am energized and alive at least on Sunday. I have to admit, I have occasionally overlooked the presence of Christ Monday through Saturday, wallowing in my own sadness as a way of control. Yes, I can acknowledge those moments when Christ was present or arrived through the encouraging words of my sister, the love and support of my wife and son, the guidance of my mentor and friend, the gripe sessions with another wrestler of God, or even the cashier at the Home Depot who was so nervous about my collar she felt the need to reveal her son was in the musical, “Nunsense”. It was a good chuckle.
Just because we don’t acknowledge or ignore God from time to time, doesn’t mean God is ignoring us. God is very much here among us. God’s loving inscription is within us. This I know, and yes even trust. It’s control and expectation that leaves us unsettled; our plans, our vision verse the vision and plans God has for us. Truth be told, I know when I surrender, God’s plans are far better than my own. I know when I surrender, I recognize Christ among us. I recognize the beauty of Christ’s existance in the helpers as Mr. Rogers would say, and in the lovers, the friends, and in creatures great and small, even in the spirit of the wind. So, like the old twelve step saying goes, “Let Go and Let God.”
May we, like Job, inscribe upon the stones our unending faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in his love for us even as we wrestle with him. May we come to know God’s loving inscription upon our hearts growing in the way and likeness of Christ.