The next day’s clothes were laid out on the couch. Vitamins were chewed, last glasses of water drunk, teeth brushed.
From a foamy minty mouth…
After spitting, the herd moseyed to the couch and curled up with blankets to listen.
The street light shown through the blinds and zebra-striped the worn pages on my lap.
I paraphrased for young brains and the one that is still learning English…
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I stand;
you know my thoughts.
You know when I’m going outside and when I’m lying down;
you know everything about me.
Before i say a word
you, Lord, already know what it is.
You guard me in front and behind,
and you protect and guide me.
Knowing this is so wonderful to me,
I can barely stand it!
Where can I go to get away from your Spirit?
Where can I run and not find you there?
If I go up to the skies, you are there;
if I go to the bottom of the sea, you are there.
If I traveled to the other side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will take care of me.
For you created the inside of me;
you knit me together in my mother’s body.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that for sure.
My body was not hidden from you
when I was made,
when I was woven together.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Search me, God, and really know me way down deep;
look in me and find my anxious thoughts.
See if there is anything wrong in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
“You haven’t even lived tomorrow yet, but God is already there waiting for you. And when you get there He wants to spend the whole day with you.”
Eventually, small hands folded and “Thank you’s” and “please help me’s” rose from the couch to the ear of God. “Amen.”
And the next morning the youngest and oldest climbed on their yellow buses as they’ve done for a week already. And the middle two climbed into the van behind me, off to the first day of co-op.
We snaked up highway 65, through molasses traffic, to the church that becomes school twice each week for two hundred kids whose parents question their own ability to teach Science, Latin and a handful of other subjects to their children.
Back at home the anxiety is in my chest, pressing lightly on my lungs and stinging my stomach – but only lightly. The quiet is heavier. I’m home alone. Completely alone.
And what should be a break is breaking. A little. Just enough to bow my head, to read, to pray.
How do I spend this empty day with God?
I read the next chapter of that book by Tozer I’ve underlined and folded a dozen times over the years. I’m in it again this month because I need to practice.
God formed us for His pleasure, and so formed us that we, as well as He, can, in divine communion, enjoy the sweet and mysterious mingling of kindred personalities.
How does a man mingle with God?
If “the Spirit of God fills the world” (Prov. 15:3) then why loneliness? Why don’t I see flames on every shrub? Where are the faces glowing like Moses from spending time in the presence of God?
The omnipresence of the Lord is one thing and is a solemn fact necessary to His perfection. The manifest Presence is another thing altogether, and from that Presence we have fled, like Adam, to hide…”
Behind a veil.
Woven from the “fine thread of the self-life,” Tozer wrote. The hyphenated sins don’t condemn me, but condense my focus. They narrow my vision, skewing everything, flipping the binoculars around to turn a close-up God far away.
The grosser manifestations of these sins – egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion – are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy… Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.
God, I just wanted my usual morning devotion and you want dissection? I bowed here hoping for a little more intimacy and you come at me with your scalpel ready for autopsy? I want Presence but you only trade it for purity and now…
I don’t know what I want.
I want to want to pierce the veil. I want to want to let go of self and take hold of You…but I’m nervous.
Search me, God, and really know me way down deep; look in me and find my anxious thoughts.
Deny yourself…and follow me
My “thank you’s” and “please, help me’s” rise from the kitchen table and eventually I break out of routine and name the threads in my veil: I confess my hyphenated sins and, much harder, I confess that I don’t want to let go of them. I don’t know how to live my life without them. But I want to want to.
Is this inching a little farther through the veil?
Wanting to want is a glimpse of Presence. Sovereignty manifested but faintly flickering, breadcrumbs leading through the veil. “Prevenient grace” the theologians call it. Any desire for God in me is God’s desire placed in me. God has stooped, knit His wants and placed them in me.
I am not alone.
Where could I run and not find God there? Omnipresence is a fact of God. Presence is another thing entirely.
So I practice. And wait for the bus.