May the fourth be with you! There – I have said it, my favourite annual joke, even more amusing to me than March forth! Martin actually called it ‘Star Wars day’ at a work meeting today and I just had to manage a post before midnight – though you’ll probably be reading it on Cinco de Mayo. (No, you Brits, that’s nothing to do with Hellmanns’ and to be fair you would have to live on the other side of the Atlantic to annually beat pinatas to a pulp) Oh dear, that reminds me, tomorrow will also be my sister-in-law’s birthday and I’ve forgotten to send a card – again!
So I mark the days on this journey and am taking notes, learning to enjoy the variety and going with the flow. This week we’ve had 6 visitors staying for 48 hours – which kept me occupied in the kitchen and laundry room! – but gratefully, I found I was living out another aspect of my hope and faith, expressed through service and community. The company has done me good – got me out of my own head for a while, perhaps – but I’m grateful to have space again now to re-engage with where I was… Gosh, I really must have converted to introversion!
I want to hide, draw back, be quiet in the solitude; I want to put my head under the Mother Hen’s wing, crawl under the feathers – literally – in bed – and metaphorically. There is a safe place where everything is known and alright, a place to hide and rest; the ‘seeking’ part is waiting for the peace that can be found there…
Someone just texted me, “I haven’t had time to find God lately” – and I do know what she means… but the emptiness being expressed is more to do with feeling stressed – and guilty too, which never helps! – than God actually having gone away anywhere. If she can’t see Him He must be standing behind her, out of view, because the Faithful One could never turn away or be faithless because we are faithless! (2Timothy 2v13). Acts 17v28 says, ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’, while the Lord’s prayer actually calls Him ‘our Father in the heavens‘ – including all around us and the air we breathe. In Christ ‘all things hold together’ (Colossians 1v17) and ‘He sustains all things by His powerful word’ (Hebrews 1v3) – He is the love that makes life work, the One that underpins the universe and the glue between molecules. ‘May the force be with us’ indeed!
But we often have to seek for the peace we’ve lost, recovering deliberate engagement – but all it takes is a deep breath of that love and grace, a falling back into the everlasting arms, by faith. Surrender is part of that too, of course – the bit we may find hard… but we are not abandoned, we just can’t always see or feel the realm in which our Divine Parent stands. I know too well depression cuts us off, the negative emotions of anger, resentment or deep grief: it doesn’t change the faithfulness of God. All spiritual seeking, contemplation, meditation, are trying to find that connection; as the followers of Jesus we have seen the face that describes and enables it as He breathes “Shalom” into our hearts.
Once I’ve finished playing ‘hide and seek’ I am ready to Sally forth. Ah – word play again… why not? The force is strong with this one – she’s been in the secret place, she walks covered and strengthened on the inside – loved. My name, Sally, comes from Sarah and means ‘princess’: if I can believe that, I will surely carry beauty and authority on my head!
To sally – the verb – is defined: ‘set out from a place to do something’ (formal or humorous) eg, ‘I made myself presentable and sallied forth’. Or (as a military sortie) ‘they sallied out to harass the enemy’ and comes from the Old French salir ‘to leap,’ from the Latin salire.
So I leap into action – or at least walk purposefully (force-fully?) out into the world. I wonder what impression I make to those who see? Most of us must wonder that sometimes or we wouldn’t worry about clothes or make-up, image or how good our facebook profile looks 😉 What taste does my sally into the street leave in anyone’s mouth, what mould am I cast from? What does the face of Christ – ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’ Hebrews 1v3 again! – look like, anyway? Can I reflect that too, as a child of His, being transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3v18)? More importantly, is it more than skin deep: am I the same all the way through, like Brighton rock or like Daniel, praying at his window as he’s always done, despite the new law threatening a lions’ den?
We have seen the face of God and it is not that of a tyrant, but of Jesus, arriving in Jerusalem as king, humble on a donkey. Behold the humility of God, Who forces Himself on no-one, but, like any Daddy, when He hides is always waiting and wanting to be found – and even when He sallies forth (in a military way) is accompanied by reward as well as recompense, mercy that is greater than judgment, love strong as death. This is His glory – it’s Who He is – the inner Person seen in outward action, revealed and made known.
It is just the same for me: out of that secret place of peace and surrender I can be truly Sally Ann – and may the force be with me 😉