Tag Archives: silence

Follow Me

follow-3.jpg

On Thursday I watched the new Martin Scorsese movie Silence. It’s about two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries who travel to Japan during a time of intense persecution of Christians. Many Japanese were tortured and killed for their faith. Many more gave up their faith to avoid persecution. At the climax of the movie, one of the missionaries is given a choice – renounce his faith and save the lives of five Japanese Christians or keep his faith and watch them die a cruel and painful death. I won’t spoil the ending by telling you what he did, but I will say that it was a difficult film to watch at times.

Like the missionaries in the movie, the earliest disciples had no idea what they were getting themselves into when Jesus called them. The first four, two sets of brothers, were all fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Matthew 4:18-22 tells the story. What’s impressive is how these men left their nets and followed Jesus IMMEDIATELY when Jesus came and said to them, “Follow me.” Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Traveling from town to town with a rabbi must have sounded better than doing the same strenuous work day after day. To be sure, Jesus didn’t promise them a rose garden. Not by any means. But he did promise that they’d still be fishermen of sorts. Only instead of catching fish, they’d catch people for God.

I often wish God’s call to me were as clear as the one the disciples received by the lakeshore. Before I went to seminary, I struggled with my calling. I thought I might want to become a psychologist instead of a minster, so I enrolled in a psychology class at the local community college and applied for a graduate studies program in counseling psychology at the University of Florida. In the end, I decided to go into the ministry instead. My wife Amelia and I hitched a U-Haul trailer to our 1974 Chevy Impala, loaded up our furniture and personal belongings, and drove from Florida to North Carolina where I enrolled in seminary. I’d like to tell you that making that leap of faith settled all doubt about my calling. It did not. I continued to struggle with the question of what God wanted me to be. A missionary? A pastor? A Navy chaplain? A college or seminary professor? I didn’t know. I’ve done all those things except for being a missionary. I’ve found good in all of them. I’ve sensed God’s blessing in all of them. But I’ve never heard a voice telling me, “This is the way, walk in it.”

One thing that God has been teaching me lately is the difference between being and doing. Who I am is more important that what I do. God calls everyone to follow him. For some that involves leaving everything and entering full-time ministry like the Jesuit missionaries in the movie Silence. For many following Jesus means being a faithful witness right where we are. No change of employment. No new address. The important thing is that we’re living for Jesus now – this day, in this moment.

2 Comments

Filed under devotionals, Uncategorized

What is Prayer?

Image

Prayer is both doing and not doing, effort and ease, talking and listening. The same God who says “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13) also says “Be still and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10a). So this is prayer: searching for God and being still to allow God to find us.

Many of us make prayer a monologue when it’s supposed to be a dialogue. We need to balance active prayer (talking) with passive prayer (listening). Listening is best done in a quiet place. We hear God speak in silence, not with our physical ears but with the ears of our heart. The problem for most of us is not that we spend too much time seeking God and too little time being still. The real problem is that we spend too much time seeking things other than God.

Aidan Clarke tells a story about a boy who lost his dog in New York City. As he walked up and down the streets systematically and slowly, a friend complained that he wasn’t even looking for his dog. He answered, “I’m not looking for him. I’m letting him find me. Sooner or later he will discover the trail I am putting down and follow it until he comes to me.” Prayer is putting down our trail so that God can find us.

2 Comments

Filed under devotionals