I watched a PBS program the other night about Shakespeare’s Macbeth and one insight of the host made me sit up and take notice. The play of Macbeth, as Shakespeare tells it, is about the ego. You see Macbeth let his own and his wife’s ego control his life and I resonate with that. As of late I am wrestling with my own ego issues. Now I doubt I am going to go and kill anyone to get ahead, although metaphorically speaking I may have done that already, but right now I am trying to separate my desires from the desires of God. To be honest I don’t think I’m doing a very good job. The question I ask myself (ok questions) ‘is what I want what God wants for me and from me,’ or ‘am I telling God what I want and just assuming that it is what God wants to do.’
You see telling the difference between those two things is really very difficult. God doesn’t speak in direct ways. Rather, God speaks through the voices of those I love, the actions of others, or my own emotional response to things, but God never makes a telephone call, writes an e-mail, or even makes a Facebook® post, as much as I would appreciate that. Sitting in silence and letting go of my expectations is wonderful but how long do I sit before I begin to wonder if anyone listening?
So how do proceed? Well for me it is learning (and re-learning over and over again) patience and letting go of the necessity to be anything other than who I am. That doesn’t mean I have no ambition it just means that I begin by changing how I view the world around me. Is the world here for my benefit or am I here for the worlds? If I am here to benefit the world than what I do should provide those around me with the love, compassion, kindness, justice and peace that God calls me to offer without expecting a reward or recognition. For me, as I’m sure everyone else, that is hard to do, we are, after all, ‘required’ to list our skills and what we have done with those skills whenever we apply for job or even volunteer. I’m not sure putting down my skill as “walking with God” (Micah 6:8) is enough for most people. So that is my dilemma, how do tell the difference between “walking with God” and a desire for getting ahead in this world.
Life is rarely simple and well defined and looking for answers by sitting and listening for a ‘word’ from God is not an easy thing to do. Currently, I am in one of the proverbial ‘dry places’ in my prayer and spiritual life that happens to all of us. I am questioning whether God is even listening to me, or even if there is a God. Such questions and doubts are difficult to face and are frightening to think I may have wasted my life in pursuit of God. All I can do is continue to sit in silence and wait; to practice praying the scriptures and pray for an insight; and to pray the call of blind Bartimaeus “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:42). Instead of worrying about not ‘hearing’ from God I ‘should’ understand this is a time for me to rest and let silence enfold me and let the silence create its own richness and prayers that I cannot speak. And maybe I have to remember that I do not have to pursue God. God actually sits near by waiting for me to surrender my ego and open the eyes of my heart to that Divine presence. It is remembering prayer isn’t about receiving answers it is about sitting with God, creating space for God to move in my life in ways my ego will never understand.
Ruth Jewell, ©July 1, 2014