Today’s Lectio was initially difficult, because I didn’t sense any “shimmering” word in what I read. The other times I’ve done Lectio, the phrases pretty much jumped out—but not today. After a while, I decided to keep reading… and thought maybe there was something, but nah, I wanted to stick to the original passage. But gradually—not jumping out, but more like a slow illumination—the shimmering became noticeable.
The entire passage is Mark 1:9-13, and the phrase is at once. I had originally stopped at verse 11, thinking that surely there was something in Jesus’ baptism for me today. But no, it’s “at once.” Right after Jesus has what is probably the greatest experience of his life up to that point—heaven torn open, the Holy Spirit descending, the loving voice of the Father—he gets thrown into what is probably the worst experience of his life up to that point, the temptation in the wilderness. At once. Why? It reminds me of Elijah triumphing in the LORD vs. Baal smackdown on Mt. Carmel, then running for his life, scared and depressed. Ah, but it was then that he was taught to listen for the “still, small voice of God,” or as the Message puts it, “the gentle and quiet whisper.” (Woo-hoo, the Message is now available on the Bible Gateway!) Curiously, the difficulty I had in my meditation—and what God wanted me to both press in towards and wait patiently for—was exactly that, his whisper.
The awkwardness I initially experienced, trying so hard to hear God’s voice, is addressed by this Introduction to Lectio Divina:
We today tend to set contemplation before ourselves as a goal – something we imagine we can achieve through some spiritual technique. We must be willing to sacrifice our “goal-oriented” approach if we are to practice lectio divina, because lectio divina has no other goal than spending time with God through the medium of His word.
“At once” also reminds me of a saying… Q: When does God act? A: Suddenly. Kay and I have been in an awkward holding pattern for a long time now, ever since the difficulty with our last church and the pain of uprooting ourselves from it. Now, we are preparing to start a new home group. I think the warning/encouragement from God is that things are going to start happening in our lives, both ups and downs. But it beats doing nothing. And it’s not alone: Jesus was not alone. “At once the Spirit…” Jesus wasn’t ditched in the wilderness; the Holy Spirit sent him and was with him. God won’t get us started again, then leave us.
++ As our lives enter a more exciting phase of doing stuff, with ups and downs, help us to cultivate the practice of resting in your presence. “I am hanging on every word you say, and even if you don’t want to speak tonight that’s alright, alright with me. ‘Cause I want nothing more than to sit outside your door and listen to you breathing.” ++ (Lifehouse – Breathing)