[Editor’s Note: I’ve actually started and stopped this post several times over the past several months and only now feel like I can finish it and post it. For reasons I won’t go into just now, but let’s say it felt most appropriate for today.]
There’s a great line in the book, and subsequent movies, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that “Aslan is on the move” said by Mr. Beaver. There are signs all around of occurrences, the appearance of the Pevensies, the melting of the frost and the river, the arrival of Father Christmas, that will set up the great battle and restoration of Narnia from the clutches of the Witch.
The line is such a good one and I’ve heard many a preacher use it to talk about God moving, sometimes mysteriously, sometimes as obvious as the nose on some people’s faces. (some people have less obvious noses than others.)
There was a study series that came out back in the day (which in my case usually means the 80s) called “Experiencing God” and the main premise / catchphrase if you will was something like “Find out where God is working and join Him.” There was a degree of controversy surrounding this series, I mean of course there was because it’s a Christian resource which intrinsically means someone somewhere will find fault with it. But the concept stuck with me – obviously all these years and a lifetime later – that God is working behind the scenes and we need to be looking for where He wants us to plug in.
The problem with this is two fold. There are those who are going to see God around every corner – everything becomes A SIGN (insert angels singing audio clip here!) and every little piece of your life will be scrutinized and debunked ad nauseum until the point where you pray about what kind of napkins you use. There was this same kind of disagreement with the popular novel This Present Darkness when it came out (also a Christian work so let’s crucify it) with critics saying that it made every little event overspiritualized, from a car breaking down to other “circumstantial evidence” so to speak.
I have no problem with saying my car broke down for a reason. The napkins you choose are up to you. Personally I hate that we have to have five bazillion paper products to do essentially the same things and it’s wasteful but that’s another blog for another day. Maybe Earth Day.
But the real issue for me is that sometimes, in reality, God is NOT MOVING. Gasp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wait, Robin, how can you say that? Well, my dear reader, it’s fairly precedented. There are entire spans of Biblical history where God remained silent. Was He “moving” – doing something, anything? Well, you can argue that I guess and I’m sure there are things in the Bible that tell us and assure us that He is doing something at all times.
But sometimes, I believe, what He’s doing is nothing. And by nothing I guess I mean passively waiting. Maybe He’s holding back His wrath, holding back a good gift we aren’t ready for, creating space to heal and to redeem, lifting our spirits by His Spirit. so maybe “nothing” is misleading in that sense. But it sure seems like “nothing.”
There is a span of time between the generations during the Old Testament books and the coming of Jesus in the New Testament. From my Messianic Jewish friends I learned that they refer to this as the “silent years.” It would be centuries later that they would also fear God’s silence during the Holocaust and wonder “how long” they must wait for deliverance. Why was God not answering their prayers to be saved? Why was He silent? Was He truly still on the move?
It’s easy at this point to just quip “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” It’s easy to say of course God is always working on our behalf to orchestrate the most beautiful end result imaginable. And we long for this and hope for it and pray for it and even come to expect it. But we also know as we continue to read in Romans 8 that it’s gonna be anything BUT easy. And it ain’t always pretty. And it will be painful and full of sickness and despairing. It will bring turbulence and we will be, like Christ, sheep for the slaughter. It will suck.
But then we know… NONE of these things will separate us from His Love. And maybe that’s my assurance that He *IS* on the move, because we move away from Him and He comes after us. That’s like basic geometry. As I slide down a cliff, He is sliding after me. And He can never be any closer than He is. And the truth is we won’t even know the half of what has happened all around us until we are called home – and maybe we won’t even know then. I’m not sure. What I do know is I will rest in His timing and His Love, perfect and sufficient, not always safe – but good.