How God Waits

On Monday I participated in a one-day silent prayer retreat with friends using last week’s post as our guide. I listened to Steve Bell sing Lenten Lands and a feeling of hope rose up in me. God has turned the world and brought spring to the Northern Hemisphere and to me. God is turned toward me, returning me home and enabling me to rest.

The time of year is come when all things turn.
The sun returns to warm the wintery earth…

I break the bread for her and pour the wine
And all I am is turned towards her now.

I heard the Lord say more to me about running away and returning in the Isaiah passage, “You couldn’t sit still,” God observed calmly. I wasn’t being chastised or guilted. God wasn’t disappointed or annoyed with me. God knew that for the past week or two, trying to be still has been as hard for me as trying to sit on a steel bench covered with ice. I just couldn’t do it.

Meanwhile, the Eternal One yearns to give you grace
and boundless compassion;
that’s why God waits.
–Isaiah 30:18a  (The Voice)

I love how God waits for me. I imagined what that waiting looks like. I recalled times others have had to wait for me and resented it (or vice versa). Or times someone knew the obvious and was waiting for me to FINALLY get it, internally rolling their eyes.  Or times when I imagined the worst and was unable to sleep until I heard the front door open and close and knew my son or daughter was safely home.

God doesn’t wait like that. God accompanies me while I ride off on fast horses. God sits beside me when I’m a single flag on a hill, vulnerable and depleted.

“But you refused. You couldn’t sit still;
instead, you said, ‘No! We will ride out of here on horseback.
Fast horses will give us an edge in battle.’
But those who pursue you will be faster still.

When one person threatens, a thousand will panic and flee.
When five terrorize you, all will run pell-mell,
 until you are as conspicuous as a single flag standing high on a hill.”
–Isaiah 30:16-17  (The Voice)

As I sat in the silence imagining God’s waiting, a picture came to me. I was a horse that had run and run but was now back in the barn, breathing heavily, mist rising from my nostrils. God was brushing me gently while my breathing slowed–brushing and stroking from backbone to belly, ready to listen to what happened out there.

What if God doesn’t expect us to stop running off on horses? What if in the running we shed something we can’t shed in the resting? What if I accepted that sometimes I have to run and trusted that God will bring me back to rest?

I held these wonderings as I collected pictures for my collage, paying attention to what evoked a strong emotion in me: the icy bench, the squawking bird, the galloping horses, standing alone in beauty without a path and nowhere to go, the bird who sees her reflection in the water and it isn’t as pretty as she thought. The surfer reminded me of Lee and that he’s gone. These pictures showed what’s inside me: restlessness, disappointment, grief, hurt, confusion, hope. Others bore witness to God’s gentle, faithful presence accompanying me like a whale, a dog and happy birds. God soothed my soul with a tender hand.

It wasn’t until I looked at my collage again the next day that I saw that water flowed from one image to another. I remembered Coco Love Alcorn’s The River. I let the song wash over me.

Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole

The river calls me over 
It’s calling out my name 
In the day and in the night 
I hear that river all the same 
It’s calling me over 
Calling out my pain 
Oh a river gathers tears  
Just like a river gathers rain 

Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

On Fridays, a group of Muslims meets to pray in the hall at St.Stephen the Martyr. In response to the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, Pastor Ruth wrote this message to them on an easel. If you look closely, you can see what the Muslim men wrote in reply.

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Collage by Esther Hizsa; photos by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Lenten Lands Music by Steve Bell; Lyric by Malcolm Guite on Pilgrimage.
Isaiah 30:15-18a (The Voice)
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Lent, Mystical, Prayer, Reflections, Songs, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How God Waits

  1. Pingback: Patiently waiting? | christinachiublog

  2. Pingback: A Punch in the Gut | An Everyday Pilgrim

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