Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 258: Jeremiah 44-45; Psalm 62; James 5

Once Spoken, Twice Heard
Today's psalm has two of those lines that always catch me out of where I am and lift me into a different mind set/soul set. At the beginning of the psalm, the composer offers up that our souls wait in silence on God. The author ends on the coda of how God possesses the trait to speak once while causing us to hear...twice.

In the midst of the dark reminders of the wages of exile being expressed in Jeremiah, and in the high callings and exhortations of James' letter to the churches, the psalmist brings us back to center. We are reminded that who we are, and what we are, comes from God. With the gift of freedom, we are given the opportunity to make the most out of each moment. We can embrace the life that God gives us, or we can let the moment slide by in any given moment. The recourse we have in God is just what we noted above: we can wait in an expectant silence for (and on) God; and we can take that second hearing to heart.

Despair cannot root in us when we are willing to listen twice to God, to take in what God is offering us and then, taking a moment to process it twice instead of once, to put that gift into practice. God asks us to be mindful of the poor, to strive to justice, to practice right speech/action/thought, to maintain connections in the face of conflict, to be agents of peace while also embracing the changes that true peace ask of us. In order to accomplish that high calling, God offers us a particular boon-God's Word rooted in us.

That means that there is hope, even in exile. That means that there is opportunity, even in misfortune. That means that there is deliverance, even in the midst of despair.

When we listen for God, and then to God; then God gets to act with and through us. Taking that extra moment to actually be in active conversation with God inevitably softens the edges of life's struggles and gives us something with which to work: that is the correction Jeremiah is calling for from Judah and Israel, the discipline that James is adjuring us toward. It takes the psalmist's poetry to give us the tools we need to make it so: to sit, to listen, to pray...then to reflect...and then, to act.

"God has spoken once, twice have I heard. That power belongs to God." (Psalm 62:11)

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