“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” – Psalm 37:7
“I stay busy mostly because when I’m still – truly still – I cry.” – Your Truly
What I am about to tell you is not something that concerns me. I’m grateful for it.
And I’m telling you this now to disarm you from thinking that I’m having a faith crisis. On the contrary, these are the very things that lead to the only faith that has any substance to it at all…. at least for me.
When I am still, and this is sadly rare, I cry. I question. I doubt. I long. And I cry.
I cry because I feel desperately alone in this stillness. In it, there is apparently no room for anyone else. The minute someone else comes around, this stillness goes away. Even when I try to tell someone else about it, they usually go away (either by literally excusing themselves, or going into their iphones, or by “mmm-hmmm”-ing their way through it best they can until its over). Evidently, this stillness is unsharable, so by default, to be in it is to be alone. It’s not good for man to be alone, I’ve heard, so I guess this loneliness is why I cry.
I question, I think, because there is within me a desire for truth. For the real. And there is no honesty in being certain. And there is little humility in it either. Questions are the tools of honesty, and they demand humility. Questions invite and make room for truth. But questions, if they are good ones, also confront anything that I have already decided is true. Even if they end up being confirming, their real job is to assault and confront, and few people enjoy their certainty being assaulted. I don’t, at least not initially, but I do enjoy the fruit of it, which is the diminishment of the false and the exaltation of the truth. This is why I question, and it may add to why I cry.
I doubt because anyone who is desperately alone and uncertain would be plagued with doubt, wouldn’t they? I know just enough to know that I don’t know very much, and when I’m still, I can’t pretend otherwise. I can pretend I know something when I’m creating, doing, preaching, or teaching, but not when I’m still. My friend Charlie Middlebrook in his book Observations says that a key to wisdom is “knowing less, believing more.” I am encouraged if this is true, because that would mean doubt is necessarily on the trail towards wisdom. And I have plenty of it, at least when I am still.
All of this leads to longing. For what, you might ask? Don’t make it more mysterious than it is! Isn’t it obvious? My loneliness makes me long for company, my questions make me long for answers, and my doubt makes me long for certainty. Read those again and realize that my only hope for anything at all that might satisfy this longing would have to be a God. Which means, I need a God.
God is my only hope of having my longings satisfied. It just hit me that this might ultimately be why I cry when I’m still. My need for God makes me cry.
And who likes crying? No one that I know. Most do all they can to keep from it, giving in only when they have exhausted all their energy trying to not. Even then they’d much rather run off and hide while they do it, and then “clean up” enough for no one to notice that they had once they are done. And if they MUST cry, and they CAN’T hide, well, then they feel obligated to apologize for it to whoever had the misfortune of seeing them.
My heart says this is all nonsense – at least when I am still – but my heart rarely wins in the practical application.
I confess to you that the impossibility of it all just makes me want to sleep. To be asleep is so much easier than to be still. Be it the coma-like sleep that comes when I close my eyes in bed, or the matrix-like sleep of busy-ness with seemingly more important things, or the trance-like sleep of staring at screen of some sort, it is easier to be asleep than still.
But in those rare moments when I’m still – I sense the presence of Something. Is it Someone? Whatever. I don’t really care except that it pulls at my spirit, beckoning me, wooing me, drawing me… with a faint promise to satisfy my tears and all that they mean.
I had a touch of stillness this morning and can’t seem to totally shake it. So I’m crying, doubting, questioning and longing today.
And so I’m sleepy.
May God keep me awake and still.