Sounds in the Stairwell

I really like our house. It has truly been a home for the eight years we’ve been here. Granted, we did quite a bit of work reclaiming it from the realm of neglect so that it could serve our active family of seven. Now with everyone away at school or setting-up their own household, a quietness covers a trove of memories.

Not long ago, our children enlightened us to an interesting feature of our home. It’s a two-story house with a stairway in the middle that connects our main and upper floor. Over the years, it was not uncommon for my wife and I to have ‘parental’ conversations on the main floor in a corner of the kitchen. If you’re a parent you know these types of talks: mildly intense with moments of disagreement and bits of frustration. Thus, when the need arose for such conversations, a corner of the kitchen seemed a safe place for dialogue presuming the kids were out of ear shot, nestled in their bedrooms upstairs. We were wrong. Now adults, our children have reported that anything said in the kitchen, whispered or not, travelled nearly unabated up the stairway and into their eager ears. Oh, boy.

Overall, I’m not too disturbed that my kids got some inside scoop on our parenting. It’s probably healthy in the long run to glean some of the political and relational machinations involved in raising children. But the acoustical dynamics of our own home made me reflect a bit more on my present situation.

For some time I’ve been longing to hear clearly from God. I’ve desired clarity with my ideas, involvements, and life in general. Lately, it’s been a rather tough go as I’ve found it difficult to settle my spirit and be still. To patiently wait for a word.

In the past, I’ve felt more attuned to God, having a better sense of purpose and how I specifically lived that out in the day-to-day. Life still had bumps and detours but I was moving at a steady pace in a good direction. But now the pace is different and the land seems foreign. As bedrooms have become offices and our time more discretionary, this moment is both exciting and unsettling. So as I wait on God in this newness, I’m a bit disoriented by His silence.

But is God really being silent with me? This past week I had the thought come to mind (maybe from God?) that perhaps my disorientation is, in part, because I’m ensconced in the noise of my own fretting. As I’ve wondered and worried and over-thought my circumstance, is it possible that I’ve internally squelched God’s still, small voice? Have my anxieties and uncertainties effectively noise-cancelled His overtures of care? If so, what’s to be done?

Referencing the sabbath, Dallas Willard said, “The command is “Do no work.” Just make space. Attend to what is around you. Learn that you don’t have to do to be. Accept the grace of doing nothing. Stay with it until you stop jerking and squirming.” I think Willard’s thoughts apply beyond just sabbath keeping. I’m working way too hard to figure my life out. I’m jerking and squirming and fretting and worrying. I’m not hearing because I’m not ready to listen. While I might like God’s voice to flow to me as easily as it does up our stairwell, I need the Spirit to settle my spirit and open my heart to rest. To listen. To receive comfort and clarity at the time and the way that God desires.

As I invite the Spirit to help me settle, I’m remembering that Jesus promised to never leave nor forget about me. I am never out of His thoughts. This is true in every moment—even when we’re quiet together.

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