It seems we had our bit of summer here last month. There was about three straight weeks of very hot weather, which turned the mind to pudding and tended to bring a lot of brown out in the trees. Then it cooled down. Every day now for the last couple of weeks there has been about a fifty percent chance of thunderstorms. Only for about a ten minute stretch last week did we get anything resembling rain, but the predicted precipitation did wonders in cooling down the land. Now it’s downright fall like. There’s a mist in the air, and a wonderful cool breeze. It’s not particularly August, although it does near inspiring.
That gnawing one hears outside the window around nine o’clock at night? More than likely to be a flying squirrel. I suspect this is a rare comment to make. Not too many people, most likely, have regular visits by their local flying squirrel. It has a small body and big features, with the noticeable flap of skin between front and rear legs. It leaps onto the roof rather than ‘flying’ off into the forest, so I miss the full experience. But, I’ve seen that. A couple of years ago I was sitting outside and heard chirping in the trees, then two of them flew out of one tree, over my head, and into another. I didn’t know what they were at the time, though I said to myself, “flying squirrel”. Yes, I actually did say this out loud.
Then there is the question of the persistent gnawing in my soul. What is it? I seek to define it, to find the meaning and core pull, hoping to press onwards until I see this gnawing manifest into some palpable reality. This morning I see with a little more clarity, though I think I’ve seen this clarity before, but forgot the clarity, or at least have lost the assurance in my soul.
This vague gnawing which drives me east and west, into the valleys and now up into the mountains, which pushes me to stay and continually leaves me ready to wander again in search of more details, isn’t that usual gnawing towards some career or life situation. It is a gnawing of the Spirit I see this morning. The work of the Spirit always is oriented in one direction, towards Christ. The work of the Spirit always pulls a person out of the standard paths and provokes towards finding a fullness of being which transcends this present life and touches eternity.
I realize this and consider this vague gnawing to have physical points, in which I do certain things in response, but the core calling is not one of specific salary inducing activities. It is a call towards God, a focused and general call, which orients itself as I find myself wading deeper. It is a call towards prayer, towards depth, towards understanding and wisdom, finding my being satisfied in the pursuit. This makes is difficult to understand, for me and for others, as the orientation is not towards some specific field. Writing and ministry and other things take up time, and may work out in some direction, but the orientation of the Spirit’s work in my soul is leading me towards Christ. This creates a fluidity of being, or should at least. The more I find it, the more I can become someone who God can pour out into different contexts, and discover the meaning within that context.
I note this because I found prayer again yesterday, after a rather long slog trying to keep at it. I found it through an act of curious grace which has nothing to do with my efforts, and is itself a gift of the Spirit in calling me towards the Spirit. I wake up with that same yearning, to the point where even writing these words seems a delay in what I’m supposed to be doing.
The call is towards Christ. The trick is to be able to rest in this, and trust in this, knowing that as I find this the Spirit will work out the contexts of more palpable discovery. But, these things cannot be the focus or the emphasis or the goal. They are the results, the aura of finding my being filled with the work of the Spirit, and the outpouring of the Spirit through me and into my circumstances. My eyes have to learn to stay on what is eternal, even as I can be distracted by what might even appear beautiful and noble. It is not that God calls me away from such, but rather for me to embrace such I have to look away towards the Spirit who calls us yet higher, always higher. So there you go, finding prayer means finding wisdom, and finding this means seeing in a situation the reality of God’s work. Which is comforting, even if nothing appears, on the surface, to change. I think Paul the Apostle mentions something like this once.
And now, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.