I have just watched the troubled face of a heavy snow day grow golden as a child's - not with light, but with dusk. With a silky blue diamonded by huge, toppling snowflakes. Sometimes, dusk is like an old man suddenly in his second childhood, when wonder and fragility and mystery return after the bluster and glare of high day. Then, it is a magic time. I snuck into my bedroom here in the mountains (yearly family getaway in the high country) just to watch it. There, blanketed by hush, I wondered, fell half asleep, and began to pray. I am beginning to think that sleep creates a yielding in my heart. All the confident opinions of my brain are shut away, and my heart can rise up with its need, with words that are as much a cry and a reaching out for mercy as they are coherent thought. I am disarmed in sleep, and often, just as I wake, I find that God takes the chance to speak to me. Eyes closed in the dusk light today, I was suddenly confronted with a number of things over which I have struggled. Speak them out, God said. So I did.
Lord, I am afraid of loneliness, of stepping out and being rejected.
Immediately a verse came to my mind: "I will never leave you."
But Father, what about days when I am rushed and alone, when a sense of isolation closes in?
And this verse: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Oh fine. But Father, what if I can't, just really can't, conjure up joy?
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God, and the peace of God will guard your heart and your mind..."
Lord, all these college applications, and my book deadline, and academic tests - I'm overwhelmed, I'm afraid of failing...
"Unless the Lord builds the house (or writes the book or opens the college door), he labors in vain who builds it."
What about the struggles you know about, the ones that don't go away, the hard things that have never changed?
"The Lord has made marvelous his lovingkindness to me in a besieged city."
And oh. Father. What about those few dreams, the ones I lock up in that room at the very core of my heart?
"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart..."
It was a symphony. Cadenced by my question and God's answers, each Scripture a melody that sang itself into my heart as a confidence in the goodness of God. And as the chorus rose, I turned my heart round to trust, knew a little better with each verse how God cradles my life, my hours, my needs in his hands. The answers came at lightning speed - the interplay of question and Scripture was so fast, I knew it wasn't my brain dredging up pat answers. It was God, speaking to my spirit through the words of his that I have studied day in and out most of my life. This is why I study Scripture. This is why in Isaiah it says "he wakens me morning by morning to listen..." Scripture is living and active, it is a music that rings out in the minds of those who love God and listen for his word.
I woke fully then, stole Joy's copy of Celtic Prayer and read the verses for the day. The OT reading was Exodus 4:31, about how the Israelites worshiped God when they heard that he actually saw their sufferings and knew their distress. And I thought, isn't that how it always is? Isn't that how it is with me today? We love him with a quickened heart when we realize that he holds our sorrow in his hands, that he bears our need not just with us, but for us. He holds, and loves, and answers incoherent heart prayer spoken from half asleep girls on snowy afternoons. I felt like the Israelites, so I pulled out my iPod to worship and stumbled into Handel's Messiah. Glory to God in the highest...
And my spirit soared up in love as night fell, peppered by snow.