Candidate’s Seminar Devotions: The Story After… (Part 1)
Overwhelming. Stupefying. Staggering. Astonishing. Compelling. Humbling. Awesome.
A few words that Isaiah might have used to describe the experience of his vision. What words would you use to describe your experiences this weekend? This isn’t at all to suggest that the two experiences are direct equals, clearly there’s something transcendent about Isaiah’s vision compared to anything that we might experience. There is something to be said, though, for spending a weekend in community in God’s presence and hearing His voice in your life. There’s something to be said for meeting with God at a weekend like this and praying for a clear leading. There’s something to be said about what these days mean right now and what they mean for tomorrow. Yet with that, the truth is that even the best words fail to adequately express what happens within us when we experience His presence and His voice.
That the God who spoke all the universe into existence speaks to us at all… That the God that transcends space and time brings us near to Himself at all… That the artist of all things and the composer of creation made us in His image… That He loves us… That He calls to us… That He gave Himself for us… What are words at all next to any of those?
What are words when you kneel with someone utterly consumed by regret? What are words when you are overwhelmed by fear or uncertainty or dread? What are words when your heart rises into your throat and you can’t breathe? When someone has lost someone important? When a life is falling apart? What are words when someone is crushed, empty, burned out, alone or strung out? What are words when they, or we, are utterly lost?
Some years ago, I received email news that a dear friend of mine from college had passed away from breast cancer in her early thirties. We had not kept up. I had not kept up with many of my good friends from those years. There were a few emails that went around and they were our best efforts to be together again while we were all over the place. The night I heard the news, I did what writers do when their hearts hurt… I wrote. But I could only get out a single line, “All the words in the world are broken.”
We know those times. Our people know those times. We have had those moments, or weeks or months or years when all the words in the world are broken. When we don’t know what to say and we can’t hear anything that helps or works.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words.” (Romans 8:29, Berean Study Bible)
It’s ok to say nothing and just be…
It’s ok if the words aren’t enough. It’s ok if you don’t have the right ones. It’s ok to not be able to express or articulate the depths of the human heart or the heights of a divine experience. It’s ok to sit in feelings. It’s ok because you are not alone. It’s ok to sit with someone else in feelings because they are not alone either. It’s ok to say nothing and just be, because the Spirit Himself is interceding in ways that go well beyond words. Let Him. And just listen.
Think about some moments or experiences in your life where all the words in the world were broken. How have you felt God with you in those? It’s not always easy to find or hear Him in our most broken times, but He’s been there. Think about how the Spirit models that ministry of companionship. How can you come alongside others in ministry in ways that go beyond words?
Express gratitude for the weekend you’ve just had. Remember the moments that God ordained and the conversations that He anointed. Recall the names of people you met and the stories that you heard and pray for those that the Spirit moves you to pray for. Continue to pray for those that the Spirit brings to mind. Pray for your own unfolding story and for the blessings that you have received in these days to pour out in your ministry and in your relationships.