Tag Archives: unheard

Veil of Tears 87: Unheard

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“Even when I call out or cry for help,

he shuts out my prayer.” Lamentations 3:8 NIV

 

To feel heard is a very basic human need. We all want to be listened to, to know that our needs and desires matter. This is perhaps especially so when we are talking to God, the one person we are told we can count on, who will never let us down. And yet, so often, we feel that we are talking away to the Almighty and no-one is on the other end of the receiver. “Are you really there at all, Lord?” we ask, or “What’s the good of my sitting here just talking to myself?” We convince ourselves that we are truly alone and maybe even, like Jeremiah in the verse above, that God is deliberately shutting us out, as though he had his fingers in his ears and were singing “nah na na nah na” like an obstreperous toddler.

But perhaps by now in this year’s journey we are becoming aware that just because it feels like something is a certain way, does not mean it is truly like that. Appearances are deceptive, and so are our emotions and our often selfish ways of looking at and experiencing things. I have found that as my prayer life has grown and matured, I am able to complain differently to God, including when I feel unheard. I can be confident that the very real pain or sorrow I am experiencing or expressing is not being ignored, that it is okay to feel it, as long as I know that what I am really doing is getting it out of my system.

God is never out, never not there, he hears and sees it all. He is always paying attention. He is always aware of what is going on in my life, and not just because I tell him about it. There is truly no danger of my being more informed about my world and my problems than God is. And yet God’s understanding and ours can feel very far apart. The solutions I would like can seem obvious and I would like them to be immediate. And yet I know that heaven doesn’t work like that. So I sometimes need to just say that it hurts to have to wait, or that it hurts to feel that God isn’t listening, because he seems to my human perceptions to be so slow to act.

And I believe God is okay with all of that. He knows our smallness and our limitations and our breathtakingly selfish vision. He is patient with us as the most loving parent to a frustrated child who is simply not capable of understanding why the mortgage has to be paid first before she can have her pocket money. We can snuggle into God at the same time as we are throwing a tantrum or sobbing or sulking, and it is okay. It is really fine, and even healthy. Just as long as we remember somewhere deep down, that we are love, that there is a plan, that there is a loving, wise, all-knowing God, and that we are not her.

All is heard, taken on board, our pain will be processed with grace, and we shall be comforted and consoled. It may not happen at the same time as we are angry or confused or lost or frightened, but it will happen. And from my own experience, I have to say that, like the analogous child I just mentioned, it is often beyond us at the point of deepest upset or frustration, to be comforted or consoled, or to have anything explained to us. Pain, especially when it has even the tiniest (and even justified) root in self-pity, acts as a barrier between us and God, partly because a small piece of us wants to be cross for a while. Letting it out is okay. And a sleepy face streaked with tears is always precious to a parent, and our ultimate father-mother will gather us up and kiss our cheek at just the right moment.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Pixabay

 

51: Ignored

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For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 29:19 NIV

Believe me that when you start out to be a writer, you foolishly imagine that people will read your work. It seems simple enough: you write words, other people read them. But the world is so market driven and hurried now that without the right contacts or advertising, you are unlikely to find many people with the time or inclination to pay your writing any attention, however much you may believe you are the next Charlotte Bronte or Steven King. Thank you for being one of those who does take the trouble to read.

Fortunately for everyone else, ignoring my blogs, books and articles doesn’t have the same consequences as ignoring God’s words. This verse is an explanation of why awful things are going to befall the people of Israel. Not listening to God is very hazardous to your health. It is also foolish, for who else can tell you all you need to know? In those days, God spoke mainly through his prophets, and though the Lord still does this today we have the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of course available to all believers, and so as well as the Bible to speak his words, we have an intimate and astounding relationship with the Lord on offer. Within that treasure we can hear and receive all manner of amazing encouragement, direction and blessing, especially if we take the time and trouble to learn how to lean into the Lord and tune into his wavelength.

As a mystic before I am anything else, it is the listening that defines the rest of my life, including how I live out my faith. Loving the Lord gets easier and easier the more time you spend with him, and hearing his voice likewise. Like the sheep that come to know the voice of their shepherd, time in the pasture is our best and richest spiritual seam. We come to know the images he uses, the things he certainly would NOT say, and we gradually become familiar with the calm delight of experiencing the gentleness of a bubbling brook that laughs and sings softly underneath the hubbub of the world’s noise. Who would want to miss out on that?

 

Words and artwork © Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

10: Shaking Sandals

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“And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Mark 6:11 NIV

Jesus was not one for giving up easily. He tells us to go the extra mile, even under duress, to forgive our brother or sister seventy times seven times. Yet here is this glaring anomaly. As his disciples we may need to leave a place so entirely behind us that we have to make sure we don’t even take a grain of its soil with us.

Obviously the shaking of the dust from our feet is a symbolic gesture, and Jesus is speaking figuratively, as was his way. But there is something to be gained in remembering that when a place or person needs to be left behind us, as occasionally happens, then we need to sever that association so totally as to not even be connected to the ground they walk on.

On social media, one is encouraged to disconnect from anyone who doesn’t agree with us, who “disses” (disrespects) us, to label people “toxic,” and disregard them when they are negative or difficult. I don’t believe that is gospel living and I certainly don’t think Jesus is talking about us leaving the broken behind us. If we don’t learn to live with, tolerate and even love the difficult or crushed among us, then how shall we accept or face our own shadow places?

No, this is the very specific and sad situation of leaving a place or person because they stubbornly refuse every help we offer. There is no point preaching to a congregation who already believe they know better than us, who dismiss us, who will take nothing we offer. In such a case, we are casting pearls before swine, and our words are just blowing away on the wind. Ties then, can be severed, and we must move on to more fertile ground. Ground is vital in this context, as we need a clean start, and to re-root ourselves in the love of God. If the soil we walk on has been made so dry and dusty that nothing can grow there, we need to shake it off and move forwards, under the Lord’s direction. A cause for sadness, but whilst there is no bleakness God cannot make green again, his servants must stay established in his love, and there is some ground where this is not going to happen.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com