Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Covered faces

Phew.  I've begun a new practice of jotting down the ideas that spring from my over-active brain when I lay me down to sleep, just as I should be falling asleep, but can't, of course, because this idea and that one, and just one more thing just swirls around in my head until I think, then I'm sure I might just have to stay awake all night to ponder it.  And it might just be worth it if the idea is good enough, if the pressing into God is deep enough, if all of it together takes me somewhere I haven't gotten to during the cacophony that is daily life, even my most quiet of daily lives.  I can be so tired my eyes are gritty and burning with the need to close them, but these thoughts, these contemplative, with-God, thoughts are just enough to wake me up. 

But, as I said last week, I often forget the meat of them by the next morning.  Now I realize that some of you might consider that an indication that they aren't nearly as important or profound as I imagined, and in one sense you'd be absolutely right.  But in another, whatever it is that pulls us into His presence is valuable, and anything He can use He will, and it matters not a whit if we carry it beyond that moment.  God is present in the present and will be present in the next present and that's all we need to know.  It's WE who want those moments, those deep senses of "I AM" and "I AM not silent" that we sometimes feel with and from Him to last.  But honestly, I don't think He intends them to last.  Moses went up on the mountain to speak to the Lord and the Glory of God was so great, Moses' face glowed from the encounter.  Glowed so that it scared the people.  So Moses covered his face because the radiance of having seen and spoken to God faded.  Like it does. Exactly like it does. Moses didn't want the people to know that glow was fading.

And we're the same way.  When we have an encounter with God, we want to make it last, want to stand there with our faces covered, so to speak, so that even we don't have to face that the glory of it is fading.  That we're forgetting.  But we aren't meant to linger at moments, to hold on to emotional experiences of His presence.  These are wonderful but patently NOT what faith really is.  What faith is is what happens between those emotional experiences when life is hard and we walk the tightrope of doubt and fear and think we're going to fall, but trust Him to carry us.  It's when we struggle and when life is blessed and all the mediocre moments between when we're just going about our business but going about them with Him in that business. 

The fact of the matter is that even the most faithful of us have doubt-filled moments.  Moments when we wonder if this is all a house of cards that we've staked our life on.  If you think otherwise, you either aren't very introspective or are simply fooling yourself.  Living by faith isn't about never having doubt, it's about recognizing your doubt--recognizing when the glow on your face fades, in a sense--and trusting that it won't always be so.  That the silence or what you perceive as absence or the house of cards or whatever it is you want to call it is as much a mere moment as the emotional experience as those that glow.  We are human.  We lean toward and lean away from faith.  In and out of doubt. 

A line from The Count Of Monte Cristo (made from a book I love!) helps here.  Edmund, imprisoned by several men he had trusted, is befriended by a priest, and loses his faith to his thorough-going desire for revenge.  As the priest dies, he tells Edmund to let go of his bitterness, to let God take care of revenge.
"I no longer believe in God," Edmund says.
"It does not matter," the priest answers. "He believes in you."

That's what counts as the glory of God and high holy moments with Him fade from our lives.  When we begin to doubt because we don't 'feel' Him as clearly.  He continues to believe in us.   

1 comment:

E said...

I love that quote!