This month’s issue of Christianity Today includes an interview with classics scholar, Sarah Ruden. She grew up in mainstream liberal Christianity and came into a personal relationship with Christ through her involvement with Quaker believers after spending many years away from Christianity. What spoke to her was the atmosphere of the Quaker community with the caring for one another. Everyone who was part of the community had a task to do and these were shared and rotated, so that all took their turns with the less desirable as well as the more pleasant tasks. What Sarah noted was that they appreciated the contribution of each other. That kind of openness and encouragement created an environment where she was able to sense the presence of God. She talks about hearing a voice inside her saying that everything would be okay.
While I was on vacation, I had the opportunity to do some pleasure reading and I was spellbound by Angelina Fast-Vlaar’s account of her grief experience in Seven Angels for Seven Days. Again, she speaks several times of being in situations where she received that same kind of inner assurance, and inevitably, the setting for her reception of this message was the kindness of others, whom she felt were God’s angels sent her way when she so desperately needed them.
I recalled my own experience of dealing with our son’s accident when he became a quadriplegic. In all of the pain and turmoil of our grief, there were times when we were able to hear that inner voice assuring us that everything was under control, in spite of the circumstances in which we found ourselves. Those who created the safe place where we could hear that message were our friends from around the world who prayed. Equally importantly were our longtime loyal friends who were there to do mundane things like take me away from the hospital to see the hairdresser and provide a winter coat for my husband Glen when he arrived from France in the middle of a freezing Canadian winter, with just a spring overcoat. Sometimes it was just coming to be with us as we kept vigil outside the surgical intensive care unit.
On Friday mornings in my regular prayer time, I pray specifically for several different countries that I know something about personally. One of these countries is Haiti. On Friday, January 8, 2010, when I was praying for Haiti, I was given a particular verse for this country, as I use the Scriptures in my prayer time. It was Acts 4:30 in the Contemporary English version of the Bible. “Show your mighty power, as we heal people and work miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus.” I had no idea what that verse was going to mean for the country of Haiti in the months that would follow the event occurring four days later. Both those who have gone and continue to go to Haiti and those who provide help from afar are involved in working miracles and wonders in the name of Jesus. As a result the people of Haiti can tell of occasions when they have heard that inner voice assuring them that they are not alone and that the Eternal God is not only aware of their situation. He is with them in it.
If as the people of God we want to see others discover the riches of the faith we hold, I believe that we will best do so by our thoughtfulness. As we respectfully create listening spaces for others, they will be able to discern that inner voice that quietly assures us that He is in control and we can bring everything to Him. He longs to welcome us each one of us and make us whole.