After completing today’s readings, I went to my scriptural journal to wonder about hearing God’s Word and whether or not I hear it sometimes for other people. Beginning with an abrupt stop at a specific word in the first psalm, and moving along a sort of prophecy continuum through Jeremiah, then John, then Romans, I ended with an ever-so-slight sense that I understand more deeply than ever before God’s word, His promise, His will – and not just for me. Have I traveled in this valley sufficient time to have begun to emerge with an ear more attuned to God’s will and way for other travelers?
It went this way. I heard something in this morning’s psalm that had application for someone else. A word just stopped me in my tracks that I hadn’t noticed before. And I realized it stopped me because it was uttered recently in a sort of prayerful cry by someone dear to me.
As I was thinking about the word, the psalm and the person, I turned to the gospel, where I was paused by the Spirit again, at the earnest effort of the faithful disciples to understand what Jesus was saying about truth and discipleship,
…’If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ John 8:31
I then went to my journal where I found I had saved reflection (here, below) from Forward Day by Day that had appeared two years ago in the reading cycle.
John 8:33-47. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.
The situation was tense. Two workers at the state-run psychiatric hospital were trying to get an agitated young man to go back to his ward.
“Why?” he kept repeating. He was in no mood to bargain. He wanted what he wanted, and he wanted it now. Still, one of the workers calmly kept telling him that if he’d just do this now he’d be able to come off the ward tomorrow. “But I don’t want to do it tomorrow; I want to now!”
Another worker walked over and asked the patient his name. It caught the young man off-guard. His face visibly softened as he said his own name. He told the worker his version of what was going on, and repeated, “I don’t want to do it tomorrow; I want to now!”
“I know you don’t,” the worker replied, and you could tell that he really knew. The young man felt this empathy.
Life is often not as we would draw it up, sometimes to the point that we literally cannot stand it. What a difference it makes when we encounter a fellow traveler who really does understand. And what a difference it makes when we realize we’re all fellow travelers.
Just two years ago I found comfort in the writer’s encouragement that when life is not going as we ever imagined, God still finds a way to let us know He knows, and we are heard. He knows our trials. He knows our ways. He knows.
And this morning, as I wondered about what I was hearing from God for someone else, that Forward Movement reflection reminded me that I was crying out to be heard, myself, only just recently.
Today, I know, I was. And His Word in me, up and lighted part of the way for a fellow traveler.
I believe He gave me ears to hear the cry and prayer of someone else. For just today, perhaps.
But thank God – literally – that I can hear, see, and pray with my whole heart for anyone but me, for today, freeing the light within me to alight another.