A stone’s cry
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I live in California, the land of quaking…lands. We don’t get very many up north in my small town and when we do they are usually small and the end of something that occurred far away.
Usually I’m the first to feel an earthquake, and it’s almost always before the shaking actually starts. When I’m not the first to feel it, I don’t feel it at all. On at least one occasion I slept through a pretty big one while everyone else woke up to duck for cover.
The most significant earthquake memory I have is from when I was almost 7 years old and still lived in the Bay Area. That one knocked down a major suspension bridge, killed a large number of people, and caused my mother to be out of touch and missing for hours. To this day I remember vividly the pre-fall branches and needles of a pine tree above my head rattling in a way the wind can’t make it, and the concrete of the parking lot I was in billowing in a way it was never meant to. This led to an earthquake phobia that riddled me for most of my early teens.
These days I’ve overcome that trauma and earthquakes have a more spiritual significance to me so I embrace them and enjoy them. Up until last night, the last earthquake we had here in Redding was just about a year ago. I had been sitting with some friends of mine who had just moved into a new house that they had big plans for and had already been building into a small farm. We were sitting in the living room of their new home talking about a coming revival in the church of our city, and what that was looking like to each of us. Right in the middle of our revival discussion, the leather couch I was sitting on began bouncing and landing on the wood floor. Our minds were blown at the timing. Mine still is.
My two new roommates were sitting in that living room as well. I say new because we had all moved into a house together after they had moved out of the previous home the couple with the new farm was living in. They’re all family actually. With this new opportunity to build a farm, two of the girls moved out and invited me to move in with them. To me, the invite felt like a inclusion into the family and I was totally stoked for the future. The three of us ended up in a brand new home ourselves. Perhaps revival was fresh on our minds because renewal was literally happening in our lives, and it was tangible. The earthquake seemed to be a declaration from God that all was well, and the future would be exciting.
The next time there was an earthquake in Redding was last night. I was completely unaware of this earthquake until this morning when my mom asked me if I had felt it. She told me what time it was at and I didn’t recall even a slight indication of shaking grounds.
It took me about 20 minutes and then I remembered exactly what I was doing around the time of the earthquake. I was in the bathtub. And exactly around the time the ground shook I was crying. Sobbing actually.
I was also telling God that I give up.
Between last night and the earthquake before that a lot has happened. I don’t see the couple with the farm as often as I would like because there are a lot of new things going in my life, things that are necessary for me to come to understand and share with the outside world about what revival really means. I don’t get over there to their beautiful little farm as often as I would like. And they are very busy working hard to maintain the farm and work toward building a foundation and a shelter for community, a place where revival can spark and be maintained. Life is budding all around us and it’s hard to connect.
My two roommates, they’ve since moved out. Because revival takes a whole lot of back breaking work that none of us were really ready for I guess. There is a lot of pain there, and connection is only slowly rebuilding.
Last night, when the last earthquake happened, I was telling God I give up. There were other things that happened in my life besides what happened at these two homes, to my whole sense of home and family for that matter, to add to this pressure. Things that have added to my weariness. Things within myself from before, and whole new things, lies mostly, that are trying to creep in from without. Some of those things, oddly enough have something to do with my voice, how to speak to people from every level of interpersonal communication, to public speaking and teaching, to storytelling and to the structure and make-up of my writing.
It was the emptiness of my inability to connect deeply and stay connected that was tearing me up most in that moment last night though. Because I know revival cannot happen without connection. And because revival can not happen without first happening within each individual heart. And because, well it hurts when connection is broken. Heartbreak just sucks.
I wanted to give up last night because I felt farther away from revival within my own heart than I ever have. Mostly because all the pieces are in place in front of me for the first time, they are just not whole into something tangible I can understand. It’s a frustration thing. A control thing maybe. A rhetorical “If not now, when?” sort of thing.
So I told God “I give up”.
That’s when the earth shook.
Truth be told, I didn’t give up in the deepest place in my heart. I know God is bigger than circumstance. I mostly gave up in my senses because my brain my body and my will are very tired. Our shells, the most outer part of ourselves, our bodies get tired in this world, they just do. Once they are revived and refreshed, they get up and go on their way again.
Deep shifts in life are part of the process I suppose and things always get back on course. When the earth shook in San Francisco in 1989, people healed, buildings were rebuilt, bridges were reconnected. And eventually the fear of earthquakes I had went away. Which means God can bring me back to where I need to be, anytime anyplace and in any manner. Until I am back to my senses, or you are back to your senses, and everyone else is back to theirs and we’re all one in mind body and soul, and even if we never get that far…
the rocks will cry out for us.
Whenever there’s a shakeup, we’re left with the strongest things. It’s the King’s job to seal up fractures. He is good. And he loves us. If I have nothing else during a shakeup, I always have that. That being said, I still totally enjoy earthquakes and I’m terribly sad I missed out on this one.
My Utmost for His Highest
It takes Almighty grace to take the next step when there is no vision and no spectator – the next step in devotion, the next step in your study, in your reading, in your kitchen; the next step in your duty, when there is no vision from God, no enthusiasm and no spectator. It takes far more of the grace of God, far more conscious drawing upon God to take that step, than it does to preach the Gospel.
Every Christian has to partake of what was the essence of the Incarnation, he must bring the thing down into flesh and blood actualities and work it out through the finger tips. We flag when there is no vision, no uplift, but just the common round, the trivial task. The thing that tells in the long run for God and for men is the steady persevering work in the unseen, and the only way to keep the life uncrushed is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the Risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to damp you. Continually get away from pettiness and paltriness of mind and thought out into the thirteenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel.
1 Samuel 29:6-11 NLT
- Achish: I swear by the L ord that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I’ve never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won’t hear of it. Please don’t upset them, but go back quietly.
- David: What have I done to deserve this treatment? What have you ever found in your servant, that I can’t go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?
- Achish: As far as I’m concerned, you’re as pmoerfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light.
- Action: (So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel.)
Definition of Joy pt 2
Behold, this is the joy of His way,
And out of the earth others will grow.