Coming to you live, yes live, from the doldrums. It has been yet another day when we believe that God has been at work doing amazing things, but of which we have seen and experienced nothing.
I read about an image months ago, of times of transition being like going through a birth canal. On the interior side of the birth canal things are good, but growing and limited. However while the transition through the birth canal is happening, it is uncomfortable, there's no perceptible movement, it's dark, and it feels a whole lot longer than it actually is. Once the exterior side of the birth canal is reached, just about everything changes and feels totally different.
If this is true of our time of waiting for God to reveal His hand, His purpose and His direction, how I wish it were over.
Another image crossed my path this morning, this time of a tsunami. The only intimation that something big is coming is that what was once full of water becomes dry, and as this happens all the junk on the sea floor gets exposed. For a while the unexplained dryness becomes the new normal. The longer the dryness, the bigger the wave of water will be, but in that in-between time absolutely nothing appears to be happening except that everything is harder and takes more effort and yields no results. Only those with long memories know what the missing water signifies, and call for urgent preparations to be made and lookouts to be posted. Everyone else finds the promise of more water than we know what to do with extraordinarily hard to comprehend. But it gets very calm and still before the tsunami actually hits because the birds and the animals know better than we do, and they go and hide and find safe places.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of a day that should have been one of great joy, but instead became one of deep bewilderment and profound rejection. It would be a really good day to see something fresh and new begin, to balance all the other stuff, but at present all the seeds of possibility in my life are either completely dead or so dormant that they look dead.
Maybe you are in the same situation. The only good thing about it is that if change does come it will have only God's fingerprints on it, since at this point only He can bring about any positive change at all.
What can we learn from the two images about what we should do?
In the first one, resistance will definitely make things worse. So acceptance, and patience and trust - and consent to let God do whatever must be done – are about the only things that will help.
In the second one some kind of preparation seems necessary. Apart from doing nothing, the choices seems to be to get as grounded as possible (and find something to hang on tightly to) or to build something ark-like and seaworthy that will float above the turbulence to come. Of course, the really wise would be digging and reinforcing furiously so that as much of the new water to come could be kept as possible.
From the pictures we've seen on the news, the aftermath of a tsunami is chaos. Many existing structures get flattened, there's lots of debris, things look completely different and there's lots of rebuilding to be done while at the same time caring for those who got hurt because they were unprepared.
If God's promises are true, then doing nothing in the face of a tsunami of grace is not a sane option. It is probably why He has been so insistent upon us deepening our relationships with Him. The deeper it is, the more we have to cling to, and the more water we can hold. But at this level of magnitude individual reservoirs will not be enough - groups are needed to build communal reservoirs. Maybe that's why God has also been so insistent upon unity: we need to depth our relationship with Him as communities of faith also – and as communities of communities of faith as well.
It might look like a disaster area for a while when the tsunami of grace finally hits, and some may view it as tragic, but we have to look at the upside. Relationships get built at times of what looks like natural disaster that last for generations. New skills get learned and new levels of co-operation happen and new leaders emerge. And something happens that couldn't happen before, the chance to rebuild and to rebuild bigger and better and more community-friendly than ever before.
Who knows how much time we have left until God turns our worlds upside down? Let's use it wisely and do those sensible things He has been begging us to do; deepening our relationship with Him, and deepening our relationships with others.
All holy apostles, holy Mother of Jesus, holy women and holy disciples who were present at the first tsunami of grace we call Pentecost, pray for us. Amen.