Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday's Meditation: Our Greatest Need

Here’s a disturbing trend in the Christian blogosphere: we would much rather talk about other people than ourselves. When I post something about the church at large, the number of visitors to this site soars and comments pour in. Everyone rushes to the table where the state of the church is sliced, diced, and analyzed in detail. With the mere mention of a Christian celebrity I can purchase hundreds more visitors to my site.
If, however, I post something about our individual need to wait for God in silence, or our personal destiny to become conformed to his image, I get the internet equivalence of chirping crickets. Nothing. Like a busker singing at the  Metro, everyone hurries by. And why not? Christianity is way more fun when we’re talking about other people. Following Jesus isn’t such a joyride if he wants to talk to me.
I am one of us as well. I would much rather pontificate on the issues facing Christendom across the continent than listen to the still small voice addressing the secrets of my heart. I would rather do significant things. I want to be a part of important conversations.
Recently I found the private notes of a world leader who longed to hear the whisper spoken to him alone. This man held a position of national significance, no, wait--historical importance. Yet he was a man who positioned himself in the quiet place and waited for his best friend to come and sit with him.
My heart is not proud, O LORD, 
       my eyes are not haughty; 
       I do not concern myself with great matters 
       or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul; 
       like a weaned child with its mother, 
       like a weaned child is my soul within me.
 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD 
       both now and forevermore. (~ Psalm 131, a psalm of David)
God took a boy out of the shepherd’s field and put him in the palace, but not before embedding the hillside, the breeze, the night sky and the quiet times into his heart. The Biblical histories of Samuel and Chronicles will tell you the palace was a place filled with intrigue, politics, war and power--and it was. The Psalms and Proverbs will tell you that David took time to climb the stairs, shut the door, and pick up the harp.
Our greatest need--my greatest need--is the daily presence of the Holy Spirit. When David knew he had stepped over the line, claiming power and privilege as some sort of birth right, he repented before the Lord and begged that the presence would remain:
Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
       and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence 
       or take your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51: 10-11)
At the end of each day my Father won’t be impressed with my intellect or insight. He’ll be concerned with the beat of my heart. In the quiet (if there is quiet) he will want to know if I lived a whole-hearted life that day. Did my actions spring from the well of the Spirit or the treadmill of importance? He will be concerned with these questions because he knows that spiritual formation happens each day. The only question is: what have we formed?


  1. While I do believe that working in the will and purposes of God will bring any of us a sense of fulfillment and, indeed, significance, only a transparent, humble, dependent relationship with Father will ever produce joy or peace. Being a task oriented work-a-holic, I find it too easy to feel importnnt and neede, but not nearly as easy to still and quiet my soul before God. Thanks fo rthis

  2. What a great thing to read as I get ready to face my twenty-six fifth-graders for the first time! Thank you.

  3. Any person willing to invest their lives in 26 five-graders is a hero of mine. Blessings to you for the year ahead, Denette.

  4. Thanks, Rebecca: welcome to the club. I think North American Christians are especially prone to this weakness, myself included. For example, just try "admitting" to someone that you did not have a busy day, that you set aside time to be still and wait on God, and watch the expression of wonder appear on their face.

  5. It's a lot easier to believe that we can change things (the church, the world) by talking about the "big issues" endlessly and applying all of our logic, angst, anger and proof texts. And in some ways, it's easier to rail against systemic problems and point at the failures of big leaders because it removes personal responsibility for those problems. It's when the finger pointing comes back in our own direction, when the blame lands on problems we, ourselves are complicit in that things get uncomfortable.
    There's a line in the movie "Amazing Grace" that always cuts me when I watch it. William Wilberforce's friend - destined to become the Prime Minister of England - challenges Wilberforce that they can change the world. Wilberforce says quietly, "I would first change myself".

  6. Exactly! Thanks, Sarah.

  7. Anything is better than having to face my own issues some days! I think this post can be tied to the trap of theology, finding bits of doctrine to bicker over instead of the way that theology is applied and lived out. Someone needed to say this Ray. Thanks.

    There was a pretty good post at Burnside Writer's Collective a few weeks back that reflected on the nature of Christian controversy and the comments were quite interesting to read.

  8. Well said! Is there any other theology besides "applied theology?" (Thanks for the tip regarding Burnside--I'll cruise on over.)