Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, July 24, 2011 are: 1 Kings 3:5–12; Psalm 119:129–136; Romans 8:26–39; and Matthew 13:31–33, 44–52.
“for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” -Romans 8:26b
Words. It might come as a surprise to some, but words do not come easily to me. Particularly when they are trying to express something important, something deep in my heart, something hoped for, longed for, or maybe just something I really, really believe. Also, when I’m angry or sad or defensive or really joyful even, words just fail me. Sometimes—many times—words seem so … rough, clunky, off-the-mark, inadequate. Kind of ironic that I ended up being called to a ministry where words, where THE WORD, is so important.
I take great comfort, then, in this half a verse here in one of the (many) most famous, most favorite passages in Romans. Because so often I feel like what I pray, what I hope for, what I plead with God isn’t really well described in the words that I struggle with. Besides that, sometimes I’m not even sure what I hope for! or if I’m hoping for the right thing! I mean, that’s part of the reason that we do so much “discernment” and “visioning” in the churches and in our own lives: it’s not to reinforce what we think we already want, it’s to figure out what we actually want to be hoping for. And even after all that is said and done, we still only have an idea, a shadow of a hope, a belief and trust that God is moving and that God is calling us to step out into ventures of which we cannot see the ending by paths as yet untrodden…
And that is the amazing part of this promise that Paul speaks: even when I don’t know what to pray for or how to pray for it, even when my words are clunky, miss-the-mark, and are inadequate, even when all I have is tears or laughter or a sigh, even when all I have is fear of the unknown and silence … God is there. The Spirit is breathing in and out with the rise and fall of my chest, sighing, groaning, dancing the true hopes, fears, joys, frustrations and sorrows that I have—making everything that I am and I will be holy and placing it all in the loving hands of God, where it will never, ever, ever be forgotten.