Wednesday, August 23, 2017

a new dance

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
   even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”

    even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

    (Psalm 139:7-12)


There is nowhere that God is not.  Therefore, when we do not have a sense of his presence, we cannot just assume that he is absent.  Actually, quite the opposite is true.  For even when we cannot perceive him, he is still there--in the heavens, in the depths, on the far side of the sea, and even in the deepest darkness.  We just need to truly believe that.

Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote: "What is decisive is not the mystic experience of our being close to him; decisive is not our 'feeling' but our 'certainty' of his being close to us--although even his presence is veiled and beyond the scope of our emotion.  Decisive is not our emotion but our 'conviction.'"  God is always present, but sometimes we simply cannot perceive him.  Our perception, however, is not reality.

Most of the time when we go through periods where we cannot sense God's presence, it is because God is inviting us to experience him in a brand new way.  The season of disorientation (in this case, the absence of God's perceived presence) has as it's goal a reorientation, a new way of being and seeing.  Unfortunately, in times such as these we usually try to cling to some old and familiar way of relating to God rather than opening ourselves up to the new and the unknown.  The problem is that this old way of relating--this old orientation--is dead and gone, and a new one must be arrived at. 

It is like God is inviting us to learn to dance with him in a new and different way, but we keep reverting back to our old and familiar ways rather than being open and willing to learn a new dance.  This often leads to frustration, and even feelings of abandonment.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  God has not abandoned us.  In fact, he is actually trying to lead us into new levels of intimacy with him that we have only dreamt about.  But in order to do this, we must learn to let go of the old.  We must be willing to trust in him and to follow his lead the best way we know how.

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