Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Be still and know that I am God.....

.Preview


My dearest friend is walking through the valleys at the moment. I wrote this sermon for her and her loved ones. My prayer is that these words will not only bless her but others who are yearing to hear Gods word as the mountains shake and the oceans roar...

Be Still and know that I am God............
Those words went round and round in my mind one night in March when I woke feeling troubled. At that time I had no idea that they were from a psalm. I was troubled because I didn't feel close to God, I was troubled because I felt abandoned, I was troubled because I felt doors had shut in my face. Everything which had been so clear to me at the end of the year had now fallen apart and I was lost. It wasn't a disaster, it wasn't a matter of life and death, but in my reality, in my head it hurt and it raged, the mountains shook and the oceans roared - it had troubled my still waters, I was adrift and I couldn't see the lighthouse to guide me home. Sometimes we cry out to God and we feel that all we are met by is silence. But perhaps its this silence that we need. Perhaps its our own thoughts racing and raging in our heads that roar and scream at us and which prevent us from hearing that still small voice of calm. I believe that it is at these times that we do need to be still and we do need to know that He is God. The author C. S. Lewis had been married only four years when his wife, Joy, died of cancer. The Lewises were very much in love and Joy’s death was almost too much for C.S. to bear and he plunged into a deep depression. During that time he filled up several journals, which were later compiled and published under the title, A Grief Observed. The loss of his wife Joy put his faith into question and he wrote: . . . Where is God? When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be -- or so it feels -- welcomed with open arms. But to go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. . . . What can this mean? Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in times of trouble? (A Grief Observed, pp. 4-5) These are harsh words, words of despair, words born from the deepest pain imaginable. Lewis cried out for some reassurance that God was there, but he heard nothing, only silence. Just when Lewis needed God most, he felt like God had abandoned him. But Psalm 46 reads: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” These are words of assurance, assurance that God is with us and that we have noting to fear, even when our life is crumbling around us, God is there, waiting ready to lift us , carry us, heal us. This psalm tells us we have nothing to fear. But sometimes the fear is all consuming, the grief is so deep, so heavy and so painful that the solace we are seeking cannot be found, even in the words of scripture even in the comforting arms of our loved ones. We are crushed by the weight of our pain, deafened by the words in our mind, blind to the answers in front of us. At these times and in these moments we carefully construct doors, we hammer the nails, we turn the key in the locks. Whatever the cause of this heart-wrenching grief within us, we become lost in the pain, the isolation, the loss and we actually create and close the doors around us which imprison us. Because when we are lost we cant see, we cant seek comfort from the bible, he cant hear encouragement from our loved ones, we haven't the energy or the will to lift our heads from the floor. So, what do we do when our world is falling apart and and we feel all alone? What do we do when we feel our cries are going unheard and God is ignoring us. What do we do when we feel God seems silent? When author Frederick Buechner was a child, his father committed suicide. In his book 'Listening to Your Life' he talks about the impact his fathers death had on him,and he describes how he understands God’s presence in our lives. He writes: 'As I understand it, to say that God is mightily present even in such private events as these does not mean that God makes events happen to us which move us in certain directions like chess pieces. Instead, events happen under their own steam as random as rain, which means that God is present in them, not as their cause, but as the one who even in the hardest and most hair-raising of them offers the possibility of that new life and healing which I believe is what salvation is.' God continues to be present with us as well , in ways that we will never know or be able to fathom. In the psalm it says: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Remember my sermon on Jacob? remember Jacob alone in the night, in the darkest of places feeling isolated and afraid. Remember that God came to him in a dream, in the silence and stillness and he promised him protection, He promised that He would be with him, He promised never to leave him and He promised to complete the work that he had started in him: “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” The Psalmist tells us that just as God promised to be with Jacob and to keep him wherever he went, God has also promised to be with us. We are no different, Jacob was no dearer or more precious in Gods sight. So why is it that we don't always feel God’s presence? Why is it that God sometimes seems silent? As C. S. Lewis began to come out of his grief he wrote these words: 'I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted. Was it my own frantic need that slammed it in my face? The time when nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just the time when God cant give it; you are like the drowning man who cant be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.' I want to read that last sentence again: 'Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.' When we are burdened by troubles, weighed down by grief and anxiety our own inner voices are making so much noise that we drown God out. We cant hear God because we don't recognise His voice amongst all the deafening sounds in our heads. God speaks to us in so many ways, the words of a friend, the touch of a child, the view from the mountain top, a beautiful piece of music or a work of art. They speak to that still small voice within, God is present, he is always present he always will be present, we just have to open our eyes, open our ears and open our hearts. But how do we do this? When the sun is shining on us and life is good it presents no problems, but in the dark times, the lost times, the moments and hours and days of pain - it seems impossible - it is impossible. Perhaps during these times the only thing we can do is keep going through the motions. Even when we feel dry and empty, especially when we feel abandoned. Jewish Theologian Abraham Heschel said, '“The way to faith is the way of faith.” Believing in God, even when it seems that God is silent, can be sustaining in and of itself. Our faith can help to carry us through even the darkest of times. When the concentration camp in Auschwitz was liberated by Allied troops at the end of World War II, the following words were found written on one of the walls inside the compound: I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God, even when he is silent. In the midst of immense suffering, the woman or man who wrote these words held onto faith in God, even when it seemed that God had disappeared. Holding onto our faith in the midst of grief or despair can help to lead us to the place of quiet where we can once again hear God’s voice. Listen again to the words of the Psalm: “God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help the city when the morning comes.” The morning will come and when it does, God will help the faithful." The psalm ends with the words: “Be still and know that I am God!” Those words in themselves centred me, gave me peace, like cool waters they instantly killed the raging fires within me. God had me in the place where I could finally hear him. I recently read; It is not that God is silent. God is found in the stillness. " Nobody ever said this walk would be easy, would be free of suffering, in fact Jesus said the way is narrow. Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) But remember who we follow - we follow those we trust, those who know the way, those who carry the light to guide us through such dark times. God always has a plan in the midst of these times, Romans 8:28-29 promises us that God is in control even when we can’t see it. There are times in our walk when God seems distant, and there will be times of pain and hardship and sometime the waters will roar in our ears and the mountains will shake our lives. There will be times when we feel our lives have been broken into tiny pieces, too numerous to pick up and put back together. But remember - God uses our brokeness to restore us, to make us into the men and women he wants us to be. God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It was the broken Jesus who gave us life. God promises that He will make all things work for the good of those who love Him. Sometimes it seems impossible to lift our heads when all around us thunder roars, its easy for us to allow life's hardships to overwhelm us till we lose sight of God. But we know that even the faith of a mustard seed will sustain us in these times, and in that moment, in that grain of faith we can be still long enough, just long enough, to remember who God is and what He is doing. As hard as it is to hear sometimes we need to 'wait and behold the works of God' , to remember what He has done and what He surely will do. I recently read this quote: 'Pray hardest when its hardest to pray. ' Remember the stones I gave you when we looked at Jacob? the stones I asked you to hold and in the silence remember the dark times when God was faithful, when he carried you through those valleys? We sometimes have to be still and remember in the silence, we must be still long enough to see things from God’s perspective. There is an old Norwegian tale about a fisherman who, with his two sons, went out on a daily fishing run. The catch was good; but by mid-afternoon a sudden storm blotted out the shoreline,leaving the men groping for the direction home. Meanwhile, a fire broke out in the kitchen of their rustic cottage. Before it could be extinguished, the fire had destroyed the family’s earthly possessions. Finally, the father and sons were able to row their boat ashore. The man’s wife was waiting to tell him the tragic news of the fire. "Karl, fire has destroyed everything," she said tearfully. "We have nothing left." But Karl was unmoved by the news. Didn’t you hear me?" she asked. "The house is gone!" "Yes, I hear you," replied Karl. "But a few hours ago were lost at sea. For hours I thought we would perish. Then something happened: I saw a yellow dim glow in the distance. It grew larger and larger. We turned our boat toward the light. The same blaze which destroyed our home was the light that saved our lives" Sometimes it takes a crisis in our lives to bring us into contact with God and in this turmoil we must be still and listen to him remembering that haven’t read the end of the book. Only God knows how the story will end and only God knows that the blazing fires don't destroy us , they bring us home......

7 comments:

  1. This is such a wonderful sermon. I love it! Every word is true. Sometimes I just don't know which voice to listen to because there were just too many voices arguing and over thinking inside my head. I also have great difficulty to rise up and recover whenever I plunged into my gloomy self and became a pessimist that I tried over and over again to overcome but without success. I know this is silly, but the mere thought that I am not pretty could trigger my pessimism instantly. Sigh

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  2. Your sermon was a blessing for me. I'm going through a rough time and it helps me to recognize the truth of your words.

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  3. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

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  4. Wow. Thank you. I thank God you posted this. This will forever stick with me. I'm going through one of the greatest trials of my life and I needed to read this. God bless you. "Only God knows that the blazing fires don't destroy us, they bring us home..." Wow. Thank you again.

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  5. Wow....n now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ever ask or imagine, unto Him be glory and honour forever!!

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  6. Really nice reading through.....every sentence is awakening!

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  7. " So, what do we do when our world is falling apart and and we feel all alone? What do we do when we feel our cries are going unheard and God is ignoring us. What do we do when we feel God seems silent?"
    I am in this place that you wrote. I found the link to this sermon on my FB memories feature today. Just this week I told my husband I give up, I can't pray anymore, I can't try anymore. I saw a billboard, huge billboard the day I lost my last companion that read "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."
    That is all I can do right now, is be still.

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It is my prayer that my words may be of some comfort or may bless you in some way...I love to hear from you and your journeys...every blessing H