“Open your ears and hear my prayer. Don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking. Come close and whisper your answer. I really need you.”
—Psalm 55:1-2, The Message
There are times when we are, if not desperate, then at least fervently longing for some word of the Lord. There are things that happen that drain away all words, leaving you with a silence loud enough to make you shout back prayers all day and night to fill it, knocking, knocking at the gates of heaven. And that sense of need, of pleading, comes through in The Message translation of Psalm 55 in one honest statement: “I really need you.”
There are times when I am less desperate for an answer, but still want to know that there is some response to my questions of life. And for those times, I have the rather odd habit (though not that odd, I have discovered) of typing random things into Google: everything from “What should we have for supper tonight” to “Why are my kids acting crazy?” to the more philosophical “Why do people suffer?” And there is always, always, some word to be found. Sometimes it’s an informational web site with recipes or spiritual guidance, other times it’s just someone else’s blog complaining about unruly kids. There is always someone to answer back; there are always words in response.
It’s an odd impulse, but one that goes back to the very beginnings of creation. God speaks, and we are created. We speak back to God, to each other, and the dialogue continues. All of it reassuring us that we are not alone. And maybe that’s why I can’t abide the silence so well. With that kind of open-hearted vulnerability, “I really need you,” I would think anyone would be moved to respond. But so often there is only silence and a God seems to have closed his ears, pretending not to hear our desperate cries. The best we can do then is keep talking—keep telling ourselves the words that tell the stories of who we are … tell them to Google, to friends, to blogs, in sermons, emails, and phone calls. And in the practice of telling them, we may find at last that God is not in the answer, but in the very breath with which we are moved to ask the questions.