Once, the ship of my life started taking on water. I immediately began to address the problem by praying fervently and bailing frantically. But I could not keep the water from rising or the ship from sinking. Seeing that I was knee deep in sea water, I waved my hands wildly and shouted for help loudly in hopes of getting God’s attention. Then I got back to my panicked bailing, only to discover that I was now waist deep in sea water.
This is how it went until the ship of my life–the S.S. Holey Vessel—went down. I survived on the open seas by clinging to driftwood for many days until I happened upon a desert island. I made myself as comfortable as possible on this inhospitable patch of land, assessing my available provisions and calculating how long I might survive without rescue. While watching my rations dwindle, I prayed anxiously until I grew desperate. In a panic, I gathered some sticks and spelled out H-E-L-P on the sand, and proceeded to wave my arms wildly at God while yelling at Him:
“I’M OVER HERE! I NEED SOME HELP OVER HERE!”
At last, I was overcome with exhaustion. I collapsed in the sand and lay motionless, still as a stone. Then, in the silence, I heard a whisper. I heard a gentle, quiet voice saying:
“Dave, I’m over here. I’m working over here. Come join Me in what I am doing.”
That was the dawning of a great realization for me and the beginning of a brand new approach to living. Instead of calling upon God to help me form and execute my mid-range and long term plans for my life, God wanted me to see His plan as He reveals it to me in the unfolding moments of my life. And He wanted me to participate in His plan as He showed it to me. The Spirit was calling Me to be present with Him–as He is present with me–and to be continually attentive and receptive to Him. Jesus calls it abiding.
This dude now abides—with Jesus.
Jeanne Takenaka recently reminded me that God is often working in places and ways that we would not ordinarily expect. His agenda is not something we can assume or predict. We have to be constantly looking for it, and we have to stay continually open to it. Because there is no better place to be than where God is already working.
During the whole shipwreck episode it seems that both God and I were trying to get the other’s attention. I tried to get God’s attention by making a lot of racket. God succeeded in getting my attention by waiting patiently for me to quiet down. I realize now that being quiet is my first priority.
So, I don’t make as much racket these days. Instead, I listen expectantly, waiting to hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper: “Dave, I’m over here. Come join Me.”