Life, Death and Love, Chapter Two
Meeting GodWhen I remember God I am troubled.
When I sigh, my spirit grows weak.
Thou hast held my eyelids watching,
I am so troubled I cannot speak. Psalm 77:3-4
I have always wanted to meet God, to see Him, to have a vision, to hear a whisper in the night, to see the uncreated light, to feel an overwhelming presence, or to even wrestle with Him like Jacob. But I never have, not in those ways. Yet I know I have. And so have you.
You see, not all encounters with God are catastrophic, supernatural, crippling or easily recognized. Some come quietly and unannounced. There are no "seven warning signs". You may be driving and you find yourself miles along from the last intersection you conciously remember. You realize at odd times that you have been staring through someone, maybe the bank teller or even your spouse at the dinner table. You may be washing your hands and look up into the mirror and see someone else, perhaps a total stranger to yourself.
You may be holding a half ripe tomato at the produce counter and somehow, somewhere deep inside you go empty, empty as a beggar's plate. There comes a disquieting want within you. It leaves you hollow for a moment, then it is gone. You make the turn, cash the check, dry your hands and you shake off the feeling like a cat-nap and go on, distracted by the next thing you see or hear.
This feeling, like all inexplicable feelings, weaves itself into the fabric of your days. It may be a brief sigh, a momentary sadness, sometimes a deep weariness. It is not quite darkness. It is not truly light. It is not quite despair, it is not hope. It is not quite fear, it is not peace. It is a vague notion that you once possessed something precious and it is now missing. Or perhaps that you were once possessed by Someone Precious and it is you that is missing. It is a twinge of homesickness, a feeling that you belong somewhere but are not there; or that you belong to someone but have lost touch. This fleeting melancholy is easily dismissed in the frenzy of the day because it does not paralyze you or cause you to break out in uncontrollable weeping. It can be evaded by turning up the radio, finding a conversation, making a phone call or even searching for a perfect tomato.
But in the night, when there are no distractions, no tasks, when there is no one but yourself and all that is in you and all that is missing within you, it is then that the feeling is no longer a vague notion but a troubling and persistent void. It is then that, even if you claim to know no God, you have within you an empty and hungering place that you fear to name because to name it would be to know to Whom it belongs and for Whom it hungers. You know with fearful certainty that someone precious is missing. You almost know for Whom it is you are longing. It is a Lover whose face you would know if you saw it, whose name you would recognize if only someone would speak it, whose heart you know is longing for you. It is our Beloved who longs for us in the still of His nights, to whom we know, somehow, somewhere, deep within our own hearts, that we belong.
The next time you find yourself sighing, shrouded in a mist of melancholy, let yourself be troubled. Be still. Close your eyes. Do not speak. Listen. In the hollow chambers of your empty heart a soft and almost recognizable voice echoes there. It is His voice in a whisper calling out for you. To be silent and to listen, to be troubled at the calling and not knowing how to answer it or even what it would mean to answer is enough if we enter the emptiness, because the troubled heart is the one He has touched and it is there that He awaits.