Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Being Present

This past week, God has been teaching some interesting lessons. About 15 members of our church went to another church to hear a presentation.

The topic was worship. As Presbyterians, we work very hard on doing things decently and in order. Not get swept up with emotion, but stay in control. We like ministers with lots of education. To be a PCUSA minister, you need to go to Seminary and study. Get an advanced degree. Study the original languages. Pass tests on your knowledge of scripture. Knowing is important to us. We have a book of "Confessions" we profess to follow. You can find them at the PCUSA web site at:

This class we attended was somewhat of a shock for us. Instead of sitting to have knowledge given to us, the speaker wanted to involve us. She was from a charismatic congregation. She claimed worship was about awe for God. She tried to show us how to let go and praise. As God's frozen people, standing up to do anything more than raise a hymnbook is difficult. She demanded we move forward to the front of the church, and dance and be crazy. Demanded we stop trying to think about what we were doing, and just let go.

For me it was a strange experience. While I am a charismatic Presbyterian, hearing God, and willing to listen, when someone tries to make me do something, I am like Thomas. I don't just go along with the crowd. I'm not going to pretend something I don't really feel. So, I sat and listened to God. The following poem came.

True Worship

They ask you to pretend.
Seek the real joy.
Find true Awe.

Not just pretend.
Truly rejoice not
empty exuberance.

© Presbypoet, September 13, 2006

One reason I sat still, was what had happened at a Presbytery Task Force that afternoon. We talked about being still and listening, in order to hear God. We were wondering how to help people at Presbytery hear God. Since I didn't want to pretend to do something, to just fake it, instead, I was still, and tried to listen to God.

I later thought of the contrast. Being still, and being wild and crazy. They seemed such wild opposites. Yet both seemed essential. Both are scriptural. Both are equally hard for Presbyterians. If you don't think so, ask a Presbyterian minister to stop his sermon 10 minutes early, and ask the congregation to be still for 10 minutes and listen to God instead of him. See what he says about what the congregation's response will be.

A couple of days later as I drove to a distant presbytery meeting by myself, an insight came about how being still and being wild and crazy might not be so distant after all. I was searching the radio for anything worth listening during the long passage. I flipped to what turned out to be a golf show, just as the speaker said you needed to be present. It sounded vaguely spiritual. Since every other choice seemed worse, I paused. He said to stop trying to think about hitting a gold ball. Just relax and be present. It hit me. This had some major implications for what had looked like a contradiction. Maybe being still and wild and crazy, were closer than I had thought. Each was trying to get me to stop thinking, and be present with God. In each case, let go the intellect, and simply experience God. So the contrast was with intellectually trying to understand what was going on, and letting go. Letting go so as to be present with God.

God has spoken to me before about being present with him.

Why You Hear Me

Your wisdom
is foolishness.
You don’t impress Me
with what you know.

You think you
understand Me.
You have no way
to comprehend My plan.

Yet the simplest of fools
with nothing to offer
can hear Me
and obey Me.

Don’t be so proud
I speak to you.
I speak to all.
Only a few listen.
Isaiah 29:14, Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21, First Corinthians 1:18-25
© Presbypoet, November 29, 2003, Heard at 5:45 AM

How Do You Know It’s Me you Hear

How do you know
It’s Me you hear?
The voice that Mohammed
and Joseph Smith heard
was dark angel.
Not Me.

To know it’s Me you hear.
Read My word.
Get to know Me.
Be still.
Then listen.
Hear Me in the silence.

© Presbypoet, November 29, 2003, heard at 6:45 AM

So this seems to be God's lesson for me this week. Learn to let go and be present with Him.


Anonymous Steven said...

I appreciate the last poem "How Do You Know It's Me You Hear". This is something I've been pursuing in my studies and meditations on the Word. May the Lord bless your efforts to serve Him.


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