Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rendezvous with God

We interrupt this broadcast for a rendezvous with God...

I have been experiencing a growing tension as class has progressed this semester. I have fought it. I have pleaded with it. I have listened to it. I have argued with it. I have tried to give it space. Still I have had no idea what it is ... except a loneliness, a longing somehow, that translates into cheeky anxious compulsions and flippant displays of humor in the light of day. I sat in the classic florescent-lit room tonight, a lecture echoing off of the tables before and around me, fellows on my left and on my right in their various learned poses (largely involving laptops or netbooks tuned to Facebook and/or Farmville/Angry Birds).

Meanwhile I longed to be just about anywhere else. I longed for solitude. I longed for quiet. I longed for stillness ... a stillness on the inside.

Upon the conclusion of our session, I trudged to our small group time with some mixed feelings. I had nothing to give, nothing to offer, yet I hoped for something nonetheless. I wanted to connect but I was also ready to bolt.  Yet when we were free to leave, I was surprised to find my compatriots lingered.

"What shall we pray for?" was the question asked. The dear one who shares my personality piped up:

"Pray for a rendezvous with God."

He went on to say that if one were in love, one would wish and long for and find secret ways to spend time with the object of his or her affection.  One would be looking for a tryst, a cherished rendezvous, to reconnect.

"Pray for a rendezvous with God."

YES! That's it! My spirit stirred. That is my disquiet; that is my longing!  That is what seems to be pushed out and pushed away even as I embark on the very studies that are supposed to be my pursuit of God, my act of obedience, devotion, service and dedication. I miss the secret trysts that I have come to cherish with my Savior.  I need a rendezvous with the Lover of My Soul.

And so we prayed.  Simple enough.

But as we did, as these precious men prayed for me and for each other, my God gently whispered to me...

I bought you lunch this week, He said.

I know.  It's a funny thing for God to say. Well, actually, if I were to tell you what He actually said it would look more like HTML code for a memory of a very nice older gentleman who, taking pity on my jury-dutied, poor seminary-studented state, bought me lunch yesterday at the Power and Light Grill as we waited to be released from our civic responsibilities.

Tears immediately sprang to my eyes, not just at the memory of a simple act of kindness from a stranger, but at the then streaming memories of the acts of kindness I have been the recipient of for the last two weeks of class - at the hands of many. Another student scraped the ice off of my windshield on the eve of a blizzard. A random gentleman bought me a coke from the vending machine when he saw me scraping the bottom of my purse for change. Someone told me that my hair style perfectly complemented my beautiful eyes not knowing that I had only just gotten my hair cut and was feeling dreadfully self-conscious about it. And just tonight, dear friends coordinated their busy schedules to take me to one of my favorite places so that I could eat crab rangoon and egg noodles and drink this splendiferous coffee at the Vietnamese Cafe in celebration of my turning old. In the last couple of weeks a friend has even deemed to send me happy little text messages that have brought so much unexpected mirth ... I don't think I've giggled this much since ... I don't remember when.

And that is not even all! I have no groceries yet I've been fed. I have no money yet even my broken DVD player has been tended to with the upmost care.

My God has been rendezvousing with me, has been this whole time, this whole season of busyness. And though I had felt so grateful at each act of kindness, so very humbled at each unexpected show of generosity, I missed Him. I missed Him because, honestly, I have the hardest time receiving. And if I got even more honest than that, I missed him because I felt somehow ashamed, ashamed that, in each of these situations I might somehow be drawing attention to myself inappropriately. Somewhere along the way, being the object of attention was shamed for me, and at that moment a part of my heart went away, withdrew, so that it might never be the object of attention again, the object of affection.

Huh. That's not going to obstruct a rendezvous with a God who wants to meet with the object of His affection. Not at all.

"Remove any obstructions," my prayer partner said, "to her drawing close to you, God."

And there you go. My final rendezvous came in the form of a prayer through the words of someone who knew not what he prayed at the very moment that God was showing me a big fat obstruction to my communion with Him.

It appears that I have grown so accustomed to meeting with God in the quiet, to experiencing Him in private devotion or the secret disciplines of the heart, that I missed Him in the world around me.  I forgot that it's not all up to me; God is not confined to the personal, inner world.  In fact, I had been squirming when my prof posed a question at the end of class tonight: How can we continue to practice the sacred (prayer, the reading of scripture, the partaking of the sacraments) as the demands for our time and attention increase beyond that which we have to give - even for the service of Christ? I did not have an answer (only a yawn, for I'd been up before dawn every day for two weeks). I hadn't had time for those moments of quiet reflection as I would have liked.  And if I can't do it now, how am I going to fight for it as the demands and expectations increase?

But Christ had an answer that I did not anticipate. His answer was to rendezvous with me in this external place, this realm of life and action and relationship. I needed only the eyes to see it and the heart unobstructed to receive.

It helped that the class had provided me with a framework in which to conceive of such things, too - to conceive of other ways of seeing.  

Who am I that He is mindful of me?
That He would look upon this child and call her Beloved?
That He would find me in the midst of my every-day existence
and offer His affections so lavishly?
I am His sister, His bride, His beautiful one!
His dove in the cleft of the rocks.

I recounted a story today, as I am wont to do, of one of my most embarrassing moments. Much to my surprise, when I was done with my tale, my covenant sister responded in puzzlement, "Why were you ashamed?"

Well, isn't it obvious? I thought. I made an absolute spectacle of myself. I drew the attention of not just one person but like 30 people, and it was SUCH a spectacle that then I had to draw the attention of someone else to come and rescue me!

"Why were you ashamed that you were seen as beautiful?" she asked.

Um. Excuse me but did you not hear the SPECTACLE part???

But now, as I write, it dawns on me, that's how I've seen them - always - the moments when someone shows me kindness, attention, affection; I think, Here I am making a spectacle of myself again.  

Um. Excuse me, Sparrow, but did YOU not hear the beautiful part?

Er. The beautiful part???

The beautiful part where God finds you beautiful and delights to rendezvous with you?

Huh. Why am I ashamed that God would see me as beautiful? Worthy of a kindness? As one so beloved that He would go out of His way to stage rendezvous upon rendezvous with me? That's kinda dumb.

I think I shall, perhaps, instead share my "spectacles" as a testimony to the beauty of my ardent Lover God.



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