Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Speak Lord, For Your Servants Are Listening

(Originally printed as an ecumenical column for The News Herald of Franklin, PA) 

As my head hit the pillow last night the words of Shel Silverstein’s famous poem, “What-if” got me. "Last night, while I lay thinking here, some What-ifs crawled inside my ear and pranced and partied all night long and sang their same old What-if song." Being in our own beds—in our own homes—late at night—can be scary.

These “what-ifs” of which Silverstein wrote are the products of fear; fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear of the dark, fear of the light, fear of change, fear of stability, fear of loss, fear of gain, fear of... well... fear of fear. 

Silverstein continues, “What-if I get beat up? What-if there's poison in my cup? What-if I start to cry? What-if I get sick and die?" Fear drives folk to be less than who they are to be; less of a parent, a lover, a friend. “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration,” writes Frank Herbert in Dune. He is so very right. How then do we alleviate fears—fears that are so very real? 

I find my fears I am unable to shake are most often wrapped up neatly in my not addressing them—in the light, and out loud. Identifying them in the dark and in silence are quite enough for me at times, thank you. However, my faith and hope lead me to believe if I ask God to show me my fears in the bright light of the sun AND the bright light of the Son--AND to whisper in my ear what I need and who I am to be, then I will see everything I fear in a completely different
way. I will be not merely be changed or different... but I will be transformed, made new by God, in a way I can neither ask, nor imagine. 

It takes courage to realize God knows who we are and what we need. It takes even more courage to hear that and act upon that knowledge. A brilliant man—actually a frightened teenage servant—once said, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” He spent his nights asleep in the temple at the foot of the Ark of the Covenant. It would seem we can’t expect to find all the answers we seek in a church. Samuel certainly didn’t. 

When I listen for that still small voice of God, I am so afraid sometimes of what I will hear, and other times I am terrified that I will hear nothing. But all of the evidence points to eventually hearing something. God has always spoken to us and is speaking to us still, and will certainly speak to you. But God never forces us to listen. God's message may be different to each of us, but I believe the voice of God always speaks to us, not just in words and not just in the middle of the night. 

We have to summon up all our courage and say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Bold talk—it takes nerve to open our mouths and say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Even now, I wonder, “What-if nobody else feels this way? What-if they don’t like what I write?” “Speak Lord, for I am listening.”

Join us in worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings as we strive to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as his disciples in all we do, growing more and more into people of faith, hope and love, nourished by God's Word and Sacraments.

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