My prayer life moved from lists, intercession and busyness to a more contemplative resting after taking a “Catching the Fire” course with John Arnott (of the Toronto Airport Fellowship and Toronto Blessing) in Oxford, in May 2010. He taught us “soaking prayer” which really, really resonated with me, and felt natural. And so now, I look at Him, and He looks at me. Ann Voskamp describes in One Thousand Gifts, how she cradled her plump 5 year old sleeping curly-headed daughter, feeling her warm, calm breath, feeling overwhelmed with love. And then the realization falls on her that that’s how God felt about her. Yes, sometimes, when I am unreasonably delighted by something rather small in the big scale of things, I can almost see Jesus look at me, and laugh in delight, for he’s given it to me. I see him smile at me. I sense his love, affection and attention.
And sometimes, I sense him look at me with seriousness and
* * * Ironically, I was working on a poem which flowed beautifully yesterday, which I almost felt Christ speaking to me, until the intensity of writing it exhausted me. I did not want to fight over trivia, and was annoyed by the fight. I wanted to get back into the zone, and overhear Christ dictate the rest of that intense, passionate poem. So I kept my temper, and said quiet, calm but mildly sarcastic, mildly snarky things, which, of course, heightened Roy’s temper. Okay, we are now factoring in New Year’s Eve fireworks to the thunder and lightning and hail which prevailed. And eventually, the fireworks and weather die down. We reach a compromise on some of the thorny issues which have emerged, but not on investing. (“Come on, Roy, do it my way. Weekly,” I urge my blog, but not the Fearsome Man himself). And I have quiet time. I look at Him and He looks at me. Sadly. Oooh, and I repent. I used to be a fiery girl. When did I become passive-aggressive–the coward’s behaviour, which, above all others, I have the most contempt for? So I kept my temper, but was as provocative as I had lost it. Didn’t fool Roy. Didn’t fool Jesus. “Keep calm,” I tell myself, when Roy loses his temper. But that is not the right word to say to myself. The right word, sigh, is LOVE. And if your blood is boiling, and you want to throw something at this infuriating stranger you loved last night, and this morning, and you now momentarily feel no love for? Well, say LOVE as a mantra, because that is what Christ would say to you, if he were physically present, counselling you. And if you cannot say it, if you say, “If I have to love him NOW, I’ll burst”—well say other things. Say, “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the storm has passed. (Psalm 57:1) Or Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will sing in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps 97.1) Yes, I will hide in Jesus in future, take refuge in Jesus, until the storm has passed. I will love if I can. I will not exacerbate matters with gently spoken snark, but speak the gentle words which turn away wrath. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And not so easy when one is angry. And so I need to add, “So help me, God.”
Don’t you love the air after a thunderstorm? So clear, so full of promise. The birds and crickets sing. So, our marital blowup has cleared the air…. Though this is not the best way. There has be a better one. We will seek it.
And okay, the next time that infuriating, adorable, clever, wrong-headed, exasperating and good husband of mine provokes me, hopefully I will be loving, rather than just controlling my temper; speak words of gentle life, rather than gentle provocation; and hopefully, the next time I look at other Man who loves me, I will look at him, and he will look at me, and there will not be reproach in his eyes.