I do not trust the loudest most insistent voices.

True, those voices make it easy to absolve myself of responsibility. Simply do what they ask.  The loudest in a roomful of children usually succeed in getting our attention.  How loud they can be when it’s time to pass out treats.

But I’ve discovered God speaking in the slow-to-speak-quiet voice.  Often lost in the noise generated by the pushy-too-loud crowd.  Sometimes it is a voice speaking only through a look or a touch.

That’s the point when we read the Gospel account of the woman healed by reaching out and touching the hem of Jesus’ clothes.  It surprised his disciples, and the woman, that in the pushy loud crowd Jesus noticed.

Phil Needham’s When God Becomes Small (Abingdon Press 2014) continues to impress on me the value God places on the small.  I have been reading his use of ‘small’ as equivalent to my use of ‘powerless’.

One afternoon several years ago I saw this powerlessness as I drove past a frail aged woman walking along the street.  All drivers slowed and swung wide to give her a safe margin.  That image has stayed.  It keeps revisiting me as an image of the power powerlessness of God.

God’s power is not like the power of the loud and insistent.  Divine power is quiet, persistent and also easy to go unnoticed.  It appears as helpless, unimportant, the least, as a child, as small, as human.

Years ago a mentor taught me that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  I find that image consistent with Jesus.  Instead of dictates, questions.  Instead of the well-placed, outsiders.  Instead of orders, invitations.  Instead of barging in he says ‘behold, I stand at the door and knock’ (Revelation 3:20).

Jesus gives a list of the powerless in Matthew 25.  It is clear that it is him that we hear, see and help in the hungry, thirsty, alien, cold, sick, and imprisoned.  If we do, we receive his welcome and kingdom.

I leave you with this verse from William Edwin Orchard.

Like summer seas that lave with silent tides a lonely shore, like whispering winds that stir the tops of forest trees,

like a still small voice that calls us in the watches of the night, like a child’s hand that feels about a fast-closed door;

gentle, unnoticed, and oft in vain; so is Thy coming unto us, O God.

 

Advertisements