Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cry of my heart

I have a memory of making a necklace at church camp. I remember being in the store, which was facing the lake and near the pay phones. It was summertime, it was very hot, and it was sometime around 1990. Either bead necklaces were really "in" at the time, or they are just always "in" at church camp, I'm not sure which was more true. But all my friends were making them, and the exciting part was that the store had beads with letters on them so you could spell things out. Being rather indecisive when faced with any open-ended decision (such as what to spell out on a bead necklace), I sat and stared at the beads for a long time. What kept resonating in my head was a song we had sung at camp probably two dozen times called Cry of My Heart. It had a kind of slowish, reggae beat, which would always inspire clapping and the moving of groups of teen girls with linked arms into the aisles to groove together. The song was quite simple, and often repeated the phrase "It is the cry of my heart to follow You all of the days of my life." I really liked that song, and I couldn't get it out of my head in that store, and so my necklace turned out like this: beadsbeadsCRYOFMYHEARTbeadsbeads.

Tonight I thought of that necklace because the cry of my heart has changed so much since then. The message is still the same; I do still long to follow the Lord all the days of my life. But the cry itself is so different. When I was a teenager, freshly choosing God without really knowing what I was choosing at all, my cry came with the equivalent of emotional pom-poms and a big smile. "Yeah, God! It's great to be rooting for You!" I'm not saying that that phase was ridiculous in retrospect; of course in my stage and at my age, it was totally appropriate. It was a part of my journey.

But now, I mean right now, right this minute, the cry of my heart sounds much more like a real cry. It is not even standing up. It is folded over on the ground, and it is so needy for God. I am reminded of something I read not long ago. In 1 Kings chapter 18, the prophet Elijah is having a full scale political war with the Israelites, including one naughty king named Ahab, who get caught up worshiping false gods. Because of their naughtiness, God allows drought and famine to ravage the land. Everyone hates Elijah because he keeps telling them what they don't want to hear, and some even want to kill him. But God in His goodness is about to change it all. He is about to bring rain, break the famine, prove He is the one true God, and save the day. The problem is that Elijah doesn't know exactly when. He needs God to show up; he needs rescuing too. And he probably feels like he just needs a break from this prophet job. In verse 42, it says Elijah climbed up a mountain, had a guy watch the horizon for rain clouds, and then "bowed down on the ground and put his face between his knees." It doesn't say he prayed. It doesn't quote any magical words or profound wisdom he came up with. Maybe Elijah was past words, and the only thing he could do was assume a position of humility. The cry of his heart may have been just, "Please, God." Without even being sure what the "please" is asking for, that's how I feel.

I know on a daily basis I'm not as humble as I'd like to be, but sometimes my desperate need for Him brings me to that place. By "need" I'm talking about that deep down loneliness and thirst for something you can't pinpoint that never quite goes away (unless you're practiced at ignoring it or medicating it). That is what God wants to get at in your life and mine. When I let Him, it is absolutely amazing how He meets me there. The affirmation, the acceptance, the love and the guidance...I can't explain it, you just have to try to let Him in for yourself, either by just praying/listening, or by opening your Bible. Every time, I'm left with a thought that strikes fear into me: I almost didn't go there. I almost just turned on the TV, or found something else to get done. Wow, I would have missed the very thing that I truly needed.

I wish I still had that necklace. It would remind me to go there. To get on the ground (whether literally or just in my attitude) and let God in. The current cry of my heart, I think, is actually wordless. It is just embracing with my will the fact that He is God and I am not. And then, I can look to the horizon and expect the rain.

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