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DISCLAIMER: I wrote this August 8, 2012, but decided to sit on it until now. In light of my friend Robin’s recent illness and passing, it carries extra significance.
Imagine someone you love—a mother, father, sibling, cousin, or close friend—unconscious and unresponsive. You don’t know what caused it and you don’t know how long it’s going to last. But the doctors say, “Keep talking to them, they can hear you. They may also respond to touch.” What would you do? How often would you visit? How long would you stay?
If it was someone I loved, I would become protective. I would be watching to make sure nurses and orderlies treated them right, kept them clean and comfortable. If it was my sister, I would sing our favorite songs to her. I would have DVDs of Good Times and The Jeffersons playing around the clock like she does most days.
If it was my mother, I would recite encouraging and empowering scriptures to her; she might respond to that. If it was my papa, I would massage his feet and make sure his toenails didn’t grow too long and uncomfortable. If it was me, I would want someone to touch me; hold my hand or stroke my forehead. For the love of God, make sure my lips aren’t chapped. I hate that.
And if it was your God, what would you do?
The answer to that question is what I’m going to have to do if I want to engage in worship right now. I posed a question in God and the Silent Treatment about what to do when it seems God won’t respond to you. I think this is my answer now.
God is not dead. But most days he appears to be sleeping soundly, deeply. I don’t know what brought it on or how long it’s going to last. But I love him. And we have a long-reaching history together. If he were laying unresponsive, I would need to activate the love I have and put it to work.
I would need to sing him his favorite songs. I would need to become protective and look after his body; make sure his body was tended to and not neglected. “Do you love me? Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). I would need to do the things that used to make him smile proudly over me, and then tell him about them. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
I would go digging through my box of mementos to remember things he liked and do those things often. Who knows? One of those things might cause him to, as I squeeze his hand, squeeze mine back. He might make a sound or eke out a word. Something might stimulate him to open his eyes. Something might wake him to life. Return him to what I remember.
The last thing I would need to do is abandon him. I did enough of that before he fell asleep, disregarding him while he was active and moving around me. You wouldn’t abandon your mother, would you? Your father, sister, brother, cousin, or friend? In their non-responsive state, you wouldn’t give up on them and stop visiting. Any day could be the day they return to you.
And what if it was you, laying in a state of suspended rest, but still able to hear, able to feel? Still knowing and discerning? What if it was you? How would you want to be taken care of? “Ministered to?” Perhaps you ought to pay that forward now.
Thank you for this post! I never thought of God this way; awake but not responsive. I’ll have to mull it over. I think even when God isn’t responding to my direct prayer or concern, He finds a way to get some message to me. It could be a sermon, a devotional or even… a tweet recommending that I read this here blog post. 🙂
Love this; will read every time you remind me to.
Thank you! I’ll keep a listening ear out for a cue to remind you. Let’s see how well I can still hear God. 😉
Chills. What an analogy. Im somewhat relieved to see that you havent abandoned your love of God despite the push and pull of dogmatic..agendas..for lack of a better word. It’s so much about cultivation and optimism, it ain’t even funny. You plow the field, plant those seeds, cultivate, and hope to God that something worthwhile will grow. You tend to a crop like you would your own seed, because really, there’s not much difference pragmatically. We want to grow things and be nourished by them.
I love John P. Kee’s song, “Wait on the Lord”. I also love Tupac’s, “Changes”, Nas’, “Illmatic” album, 1/2 of “Reasonable Doubt”, the “House Hunters” TV show, and can and do listen to KFI 640am around the clock. But nothing would serve me more right than to hear my mother’s voice assuring me with all hope she could that Id wake up and that she would never abandon her post. My boyfriend’s quiet vigil, punctuated by nervous jokes to keep us both calm. My cousin’s fire, threatening my ass that if I didnt wake up, she’d kick it. My best friend, Kimberly replaying our shared experiences as only she could. We’ve been bffs since 2nd grade, are 3 days apart, and have to share blood-and you can’t tell me otherwise.
I’d be talking to God a lot. Absorbing everything.
It’s like when we’re asleep. The world is still moving. If sharing a bed, our partners are still next to us. We can sometimes hear them even into our deepest slumber. And we rest easily knowing that God, the world, and they, will be there upon our awakening.
What I take from this is you have some beautiful people around you to wake up TO. That makes me happy for you. 🙂
Everything is asleep until awakened.
That was November 2012. This is August 2013. I believe I’m just now starting to wake up. STARTING.
Excellent post! If God is a god of the living, then is He not, too, alive? Yes, He is alive…and kicking! All descriptions of God in the Scriptures give Him qualities of a man: feet like brass burning in an oven (black skin); hair like wool (black hair?)… Nothing happens lest a man or woman causes it to happen! We’ve searched and searched for that mystery God, no less than 76 trillion years, to no avail. God is the Truth and righteousness living within the core of the people and is manifested in the actions of the truthful and righteous.
I would do just as you suggested, Mark Chappelle: I would play/sing his favorite songs, prepare his favorite foods (at least for him to smell them, if he cannot eat them), massage and pedicure His feet and manicure His hands, and all the things I know he likes and does for Himself when He’s conscious. And, how blessed I am to be in the position to know these things!
This is incredible. Humanizing God in a divinely, glorifying way. If I had to compare? I would chart you with CS Lewis on this post alone. I will never forget this.
Mark, your mind and your ideas are so authentic. What an interesting analogy. Would have never thought of worship from that perspective. Thanks for sharing!
This post was touching. I am visiting because I saw that you tweeted me via my email.I’ve holding back from some social media at this point in time, but still blogging. Spending more time with the Master and allowing Him to make me aware of the things He desires, and asking for His guidance, strength and to be filled with His Spirit to carry out His will and not my own. I know He is listening to your heartbeat and that He is right there with you. He may be silent, but I’m learning that’s how we really learn how to trust Him. Have a great day!
*I’ve been holding*
“Any day could be the day they return to you.”
This post struck a chord with me, and I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to reread it often. It’s beautiful.
If it was my family or friends, I would be at their sides as much as possible. I’d read to them, watch movies, play their favorite music, and play them in checkers or monopoly. But I would only let them win every 3 games. If it was me, I would want people to do all of those things, and play with my hair and rub my feet and hold my hand.
And when it’s Jesus, I’ll come back and read this to remind me that He is alive and just waiting for me to come talk to him.
I just read this. Did notice it before. It’s beautiful. A reminder of what to do when you feel like God isn’t there, isn’t responding, isn’t being who He used to be to you. I know how this feels for a short period of time. And I’m sure I fail to respond in a way that shows that I am still present, still attentive. But I can’t imagine what it’s like to live this way. You must be incredibly strong and your relationship with him must run deep. I’ve known you for several years. But I think I’m just realizing this about you…
Wow! You’ve said a mouthful here. I’m almost at a lost of words. This isn’t exactly the easiest blog to respond to but I will try.
As Christians, but more specifically, as worshippers we sometimes have the tendency to place God in a box. We limit His methods of speaking to us by expecting His every word to us to come in the way it has always come. But God, in all of His sovereignty will speak to His children in more ways than one. There will be times we will pray and God will answer but because the answer was given in an unfamiliar form (through a song, email, movie, etc), we chalk it up to “God isn’t hearing me…” or when He doesn’t heal our loved ones, we chalk it up to “God doesn’t love me…”. It’s crucial to understand that God speaks how and when he wants. It’s our duty to be attentive and sensitive so as not to miss His voice. Further, we must understand that just because God doesn’t, it doesn’t mean He can’t. True worshippers understand and accept this. Remember, God created solely for the purpose of worshipping Him. Worship glorifies God. Therefore, God is always seeking moments to obtain glory through the beings He created to worship Him. Take Lazurus’ sisters for instance. They started to doubt God because when Lazarus was sick. They were praying, fasting, and worshipping in hopes that Lazarus would be healed and when his healing didn’t come in their timing, they became frustrated and their faith started to fade. Not too long after, Jesus told them that the sickness wasn’t unto death but so that GOD would be glorified? You see! His silence and lack of response; and His methods of speaking to and answering us has a purpose- to glorify HIM!
Simply put, as you evolve as a worshipper, you begin to better understand the God you’re worshipping.
This is one of my favorites from you. I connect with this and I love how you convey your feelings. I read this often and each time it provokes emotions that I am still dealing with. There are many questions I have regarding my own personal relationship. You help me in may ways. I know I am not alone. I appreciate your honesty and transparency. xo
That is a very thought provoking idea; which I assume was your plan. I have not heard from God for a good year – I keep sitting with him, talking, asking, pleading. I’m not sure when He will answer, but I know at some point He will. That leaving His side, although I’ve thought about it, never happens. At some point I know He will sit up and talk with me, that He is waiting for some reaction or thought or event or action that I have done or not done will be the key. That because I see God through parent-goggles, that He is not good because of His grace but because of my actions. (yes, I see the problem). So I will sit and wait, possibly frustrated and irritated, but I will wait.