Abbey slater (uri '18); shared at fri gathering, Jan. 26, 2018.
What I have to share with you tonight is a reflection about being quiet before God. No Little People by Francis Schaeffer is a book that I started over break, and it really emphasizes the need for quiet. I’m finding that I really want this, but in a world of wanderers in which we are pilgrims far from home, we are faced with a constant noise. There is always someone talking, a car horn blaring, a baby crying, a keyboard clacking, music, timers, alarms…a clamor in every corner. Quiet is harder and harder to come by. How are we to commune with God in the midst of all this noise? Why are we so busy? Why do we hate to be still?
Schaeffer suggests that our busy-ness is merely an escapism. As we try to avoid confronting ourselves we will do almost anything to keep our minds full. He says, “there is a place for proper entertainment but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everything second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow him to speak to us and confront us.” (61).
Why is this such a hard word? Why do I squirm when I think of a God that confronts me? When I think of confronting myself, what am I afraid of? I think, as I tried to deal with this question honestly, I see that I am afraid of the self-condemnation that lurks in my heart. As I fail again and again, I despair of being all I expect I should be. My pride is in tatters when I truly face my sin and I’m left desperate. If this is the real me, the me that not everyone sees, do I really want God to see this? Why would he want to be near me?
Is this how Jesus responded to the fleshliness of the people that followed him? To the woman who was caught in adultery in John 8, scorned by her community, an outcast, Jesus simply said, “neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Jesus never once wagged his finger or clicked his tongue; he never employed the “d” word, heaping on the shame, telling his disciples how “disappointed” he was with them. No, instead, when Peter denied him no less than 3 times, Jesus loved him and Jesus restored him. In John 21, Jesus gives him the chance to testify of his love 3 times, a parallel to his denials and eventually Peter cries out, “yes Lord you know that I love you.” We can’t help but hear the prayer of the centurion as Peter makes this confession, “Lord I believe help my unbelief.” This is Peter: he has shown himself to be faithless in Jesus’ darkest hour, but Jesus does not shame him or ridicule him, he does not mock his weak faith, rather he embraces him as a brother and a friend.
Francis Schaeffer goes on to say, “The realism of the Bible is that God does not excuse sin, but neither is He finished with us when He finds sin in us.”
What do I think I will find if I really cast my cares on Jesus? If I am fully honest before God? Will I be rejected? Let down? Will I be told I am a failure and shown the door? The God who made me has called me his friend and he demonstrates his love in the most tangible way possible – by giving his beloved son. As I grapple with the invitation to be still before God, I must therefore realize: there is only one reason why I CAN be still in the presence of an almighty God, only one reason why I don’t have to tremble with dread or hold my head in shame. Because a restitution has been made. The Lamb was led to the slaughter, so that I would no longer wear my shame. I’m wearing His righteousness. Jesus was quiet before his accusers; he said nothing in his own defense because there was nothing he could say in mine.
And so when I come to my Father, I can sit at his feet, crawl in his lap and be soothed by his voice. I can face my weakness and failure that runs far deeper than I ever dared imagine, knowing that Christ bore the cross and the rejection so I never will. Jesus gave me his birthright in exchange for mine. I can be quiet. I can be still. And I can commune with my Creator, knowing I already belong to him, I have been bought by him, fully and finally. And I’ll end with just one more Schaeffer quote: “We are not to be people of escape, The Christian is to be the realist. To face reality as born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit is the Christian’s calling” (62).