Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hi, this is God. Please leave a message...

Hi, this is God. I can’t come to the phone right now, please leave a message after the tone.

There have been good times and hard times when God has been quick to call back. Even if it’s only to leave a message, I’m here. I’m working on it. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to you.

Lately when my phone rings, it’s always someone else.

Elie Wiesel wrote about God’s silence in the night of the Nazi Genocide. My sense of proportion isn’t that far out of whack. I know that losing my job and savings isn’t the same as dying at Auchwitz. I don’t know anything about that kind of suffering.

But I do know about the silence of God. Run a Google search on that phrase and count the clich├ęs and platitudes. For centuries people have tried to speak for this speechless Father, this unmoved Creator. But there’s the trouble. No creature can say anything to compensate for the sense that the God’s back is turned.

After the self-pity, after the unrequited love has passed, there is a choice to be made. If God is not calling back – if God is indifferent to my life – how do I set my own course? How to keep believing in myself when if seems God has given up on me?

When God abandoned Jesus, he gave up the ghost. I don’t have that luxury. My suffering is real, but far from biblical. The great models of perseverance and faithfulness in the scriptures aren’t much help. I’m no Jesus, no Job, not even Jonah. The sufferings of Pennsy aren’t going to matter to anyone in 50 years.

So if God isn’t going to pitch in, what do I have to rely on?

Will. First, I have to choose to go on, and so I do. I choose to keep living.

Love. God does not return my calls, but Mrs P does. My mom does. My sisters, my oldest friend, even our animals. They believe in me and their faith gives me strength.

Wisdom. Betrayal is a great teacher. Not every one who acts loving actually loves. Not everyone who receives feels gratitude. There is a part of a man that he can’t afford to give away, not if hw wants to go on living, working, fighting for the people he loves.

Honor. That old fashioned word that means the value of a name. The shine has been dulled over the years, the finish dented and scratched, but in the end, my only real treasure is the value of my name, the value of my word.

Jesus told the story of a man who held a feast. The fine people he invited chose not to attend, so the man opened his doors and welcomed in the folks he could trust. The common people of the street who may not have been as highly regarded as their “betters”, but who were faithful to the host who offered his hospitality and himself.

God is welcome in my life, and may choose to return someday, but for now I have to go on without the voice I have grown so accustomed to. If God chooses not to walk with me, so be it. I will continue to walk. I will walk as God taught me. I will continue to pray into the silence and to work through the darkness.

I have waited long enough for God to speak. It is time to face the silence with the people who love me enough to call back.