Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Step into the Garden

My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, "When will you comfort me?"

I do not believe that there is a greater enigma of human thought than waiting for God to do whatever he is going to do next. Years ago, as I lived on Catalina Island off the shores of Southern California, I wrote these words . . .

Here I sit on the outside
Throwing pebbles in the ocean,
Hoping one will cause a tidal wave
And wash me out to sea.

Here I sit on the outside
Wondering what to do next
Wondering how to get someone
Or even God
To notice me . . .

And my gifts
Which I will gladly give
For the price of bread
For me and mine.

Here I sit on the outside
Wondering what part of the Body of Christ
I am.
A little toe? An eye? An ear?
I feel most like the buttocks.

Something for the rest of the church
To sit on,
And wipe.

Here I sit on the outside;
On the shelf
Gathering dust,
Waiting to be opened and read.

Helping to hold up the other
Forgotten books.
Perhaps someday the shelf will be
And there shall be a book burning.

That shouldn’t be so bad.
Even the smoke flies upward.

I am not the only one to process such feelings. Perhaps somewhere in the dark, lonely reaches of your heart, you have felt similarly. Felt the pain of abandonment. Felt the need for comfort. Just the soft, almost silent whisper of his presence, just a small taste of his love; something, anything to be reassured that God is there and that he cares.

All of the scripture in the world cannot provide this. All of the talk, all of the sympathy or affirmation in the cosmos cannot heal the pain, the longing, the thirst. The saddest, most painful word in the scripture above is, “When?” It stands there, solitary and alone, waiting for an answer, a response.

The answer will assuredly come. And when it does you will know it. You may lie in your bed at night, listening to the sounds of the jungle, wondering if it is the roar of a lion you hear. But when the lion finally roars, you know damn well that it is a lion.1

God’s touch is like that. Delicious and definitive.

1. Vanauken, Sheldon, A Severe Mercy, Phoenix Press, Walker & Company, New York. 1977, p.40.

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