Thursday, February 14, 2008

Where God Goes

God knows where he goes. Or maybe I should say, God goes where he knows. And it’s always a delight to find him, however and wherever he may be.

Last night at home fellowship, one of us, a husband and father—a carpenter, among other occupations—was there without his wife, who was working. Working in the evening because of all the snow around here this winter and having to stay home with the children home from school, which has been closed days here and there. Quite a few days. Working because they need the money.

So the carpenter begins to blush. We’re praying for one another. We’re just asking what we can pray for and then doing that. Each one speaking up. But the carpenter is silent, and so I ask him if he would like to pray for a woman’s family problem. A woman sitting next to him. And as I say. The pink of a cherry blossom comes up his neck and face and forehead. A man suddenly submerged in pink.

Does anyone else have this happen, he says. Motioning over his face. What? I say. Does anyone else have this problem praying out loud? he says, smiling apologetically, looking down.

The woman in question has just finished praying. A woman who is also very shy. Who hasn’t liked to pray much out loud either.

Oh, she says. Oh, you don’t know how hard that prayer was that I just prayed. But I just closed my eyes and pushed my way through it, she says, smiling.

It’s just like talking, someone else says. It’s just like talking out loud. Talking to one another. Only it’s to God.

My wife says I talk a lot, the carpenter says, chuckling to himself, looking around at us as though we might catch him talking too much if he’s not careful.

Well, then you can pray a lot, someone says. It’s easy.

I know how you feel. I used to be terrified, somebody says. I used to be so afraid. I don’t know of what. It went on for years that way. And then. Now. It’s no big deal.

Well, it’s a little like public speaking in private.

Yes. A little like public speaking among friends, someone says.

I remembered an older woman in another home fellowship group who said, I never know what exactly is going to come out, laughing at herself. I don’t know if I do it right. But I don’t care, she said. I just like talking to God. I don’t know why.

The carpenter sits there, smiling, looking down.

And then we move on to the Bible. Move on to what we’re studying in the Bible. And then we talk quietly about that. And everyone says something. Everyone has quite a lot to say. And it’s as natural a conversation as you could want. Each of us saying what’s on his or her mind. Noting things about Noah. Noting that he’s righteous but not perfect. Apparently a shy man. An easily embarrassed man. Who does an extraordinary thing. Who lives an extraordinary life. Who does what he’s asked to do and by doing that saves the life of the world.

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