Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hidden in You Beneath the Hubbub and Silence

Photo: Marian Beck, Creative Commons, cc license
Green nubby sedum buds have turned fuscia and pink lavender, these knobby plant-blossoms more akin to cauliflower than petals. They've announced autumn on hot summery days and it's only now that I see and believe them.

Cool September rains fell all morning and a crisp wind bends green maple leaves and tall silvery firs now, clanging into my metal wind-chimes on their way. One sliver of a far off maple turns brazen in orange brick hues, ahead of her time on a tree where all else flutters green in the breeze. The constant hiss of autumn wind and tinkling copper wind-chimes sink a school-time giddiness into me. I find myself staring out the window again and smile, sipping re-heated coffee.

This has been the week of rasping electric pencil sharpeners, and splatters of blue and red paints on the table, the wall, and the paper maps as we swish in the four oceans and seven continents in kindergarten flair. My youngest, Daniel, circles items in groups of twos or threes for his math, while my tenth grader meets geometry. Our eldest, John, buys his own backpack, lines up newly-purchased highlighters, and carpools rides to college for his sophomore year.

In the quiet now, I grab some space, reheat the coffee, and settle in to study and learn. There is a verse in Acts from several chapters ago that has been ringing and clamoring in my mind since. It starts with an unintentional joke, and I laugh quietly at Paul, and trace a smiley face in the margin. It's not his fault, poor Saul/Paul. He is bold, passionate, articulate. Life automatically gets riled up around him. In the early Christian church in Jerusalem and throughout the Roman Empire's colonies, eddies of pulsing activity swirled and crashed around Paul. Wherever he went, action waves rippled out from him: miraculous healings, convincing persuasive arguments to crowds of people, and thousands deciding to follow the Jesus Way of life. Dangerous currents welled up around him too. Death threats from furious Jews and Jewish temple leaders resulted in a need to evacuate. Roman and Greek followers of Jesus sensed the rising tide, and hustled Paul off to his hometown of Tarsus, Spain. I picture this hot-blooded Latino Paul -- Pablo?-- arriving home and seeing God do amazing things in Spain as well.

What makes me smirk, though, and where I traced a smiley face penciled-in joke next to the verses is the next line, "Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace."

Peace. Quiet.

Sometimes, we judge the success of our ministries or churches, our dreams, families, or goals by the amount of excitement and activity generated by them, by the number of hits, the pages written, the accolades or recognition, or the number of leads.

And if so, then we may be lulled into thinking that nothing is happening or being accomplished during the quiet, or in the lulls. Does an absence of wild hubub mean an absence of movement?

I love the verse that comes next in the story. Paul, the well-known one, the accomplished orator, the passionate, things-get-done-when-he's-around-kind of guy is gone, and quiet has fallen. Into that calmness God states, "It [the church] was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." 

The church had been growing in numbers earlier too, during Paul's time in the church. Now with him gone, in a time where life may look quiet and calm with little activity, stirring and pulsating still exist. Life is moving, growing, changing. Behind the scenes, steady and unchanging, the God of the Universe is working. He hasn't stopped or waned. 

Quietly, steadily, unceasingly, He works, weaves, and orchestrates. And his work? Here, it is to strengthen and encourage the Church. Invisible hands pull in strength, hope, joy, change, and transformations, and he braids them in behind the scenes.

Whatever God has made and placed you in that is of Him... he is working on invisibly. Your marriage, your children's lives, hearts, minds, and spirits... the God of the Universe who knows the stars by name is silently, unhaltingly, arranging details behind what we can see. 

Whatever God has made and placed in you in that is of Him... he is working on invisibly. Those dreams, goals, desires to do something? That secret hope to use your art for him, or to use your skills for him in that way? He sees those and is working tirelessly to strengthen and encourage those good things -- things that he was the one who dreamed up first anyway!

Your relationships with relatives, friends, neighbors, and the people you meet on the city bus? Your reactions and responses to people at work, in the grocery store, or in the carpool lane in the morning? Our attitudes when no one sees us? He is working behind the scenes to strengthen and encourage you (and me!) and to use what's in us for his glory.

The wind continues to blow long and hard outside my window, tossing the branches in wild array. Lulls come and go, and the trees still grow. Invisible, imperceptible, life tremors and pulses beneath the surface. They grow. And I love that our God says he is doing the very same in us, in our lives.

14 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

needed to read this today Jennifer. My youngest is not only going through a break up of her marriage (husband says he doesn't love her and be with her) but also the accompanying financial struggles. Then just yesterday she was let go from her job of 2 months at a daycare. i think something is up there but she is hurting. What you have written is so true.

Dolly @Soulstops said...

Jennifer,
Powerful truth...and so encouraging to know God is always working...even when it seems like all is quiet :) Blessings to you and yours with the new school year :)

Betty Draper said...

Jennifer, profound post my sister, profound. Today I was on the phone with a sister in the Lord listening as she lamented over a son getting a divorce, he is breaking down, has lymnes disease, cannot work, lost all he has worked for this past seven or eight years. His mother is so worried he will breakdown one time too many. I had no other words for her except I will pray for him and her too. Even in the worst of times, when your hurt crowds out the hurt He is working and it just might be us He wants to use to help someone. Good post.

stuckinindiana said...

Love this post... so many reminders of His faithfulness!

Cheryl Barker said...

Love this truth, Jennifer. Even during the lulls, God's working. A timely word for me today. Thanks!

TC Avey said...

Great post!

We don't always see it, But God is always working. His will is being accomplished. His word will not return void.

We must trust Him, even in the silence.

Floyd said...

I'm hearing you, Jennifer. As you know I've taken time for that specific purpose. The get some quiet and peaceful times that God is calling me to. For Him, for my family, and for my soul. Well said. Your words soften the soul, sister.

Jennifer Dougan said...

Oh Bill, I am so sorry about what your daughter is going through. Words fail, don't they? May she hear God's whispers about her true beauty, worth, and value from our Artist God. Oftentimes that is what we women mistakenly entangle up with the men in our lives.

Sad with you tonight, friend,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Dolly. Blessings to yours as well. :)

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com



Jennifer Dougan said...

Oh Betty,

I'm sorry, friend, for this woman you care for whose son is going through this divorce, lyme's disease, and other hard things. We hurt when we hear of others' hurts, huh? May you have wisdom to know when to speak and when to listen as you mourn and care for her.

Thank you,
Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

StuckinIndiana,

Thank you. So nice to have you here,

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Cheryl,

Thank you. I love that he is working even in the lulls. So encouraging, isn't it?

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thanks, TC. "Trusting him in the silence" -- what a great way to say it.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Floyd. You are encouraging, friend.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com