Today in church, a woman read aloud Psalm 131:
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
New Revised Standard Version
But I like this version just a little better:
Lord, my heart is not proud;
I don’t look down on others.
I don’t do great things,
and I can’t do miracles.
But I am calm and quiet,
like a baby with its mother.
I am at peace, like a baby with its mother.
People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
now and forever.
New Century Version
As she later mentioned, when we think of a weaned child the first things that come to mind are not calm and quiet. But that’s because we mistakenly associate a constantly crying infant with weaning. But once it is taught that it need not obsess over where it’s next meal is coming, thought not visible, Mommy has not abandoned it, then the child begins to break that exhausting cycle of demanding attention and reassurance. Around this time the bodies of most of the world’s children cease producing the enzyme lactose and even no longer metabolize milk, further encouraging an appetite for solid food.
When I first came to Christ, I was like that infant, alternately clamoring for God’s attention and then His services. I prayed fervently for anything and everything, anxiously worrying that God would find me lacking and withhold from me those things I yearned for; health, security, prosperity, and ministerial accomplishments.
I worried daily what it was that God wanted me to do, belaboring decisions until a clear sign was visible. When things went well then I thanked God for His guidance and His blessing. When they went wrong I apologized for not listening attentively enough, with the understanding that misfortune was God’s way of teaching me. Other Christians who were faring better than I were, for some reason, favored by God.
I prayed that God would use me for great things and threw myself into what I believed was the service of His kingdom; youth group, children’s sermons, leading retreats, Sunday school teaching, organizing church functions and serving on church committees. Although left unsaid, I believed that God would ‘bless’ me with the abilities and time to do all these things and to eventually recognize me as making a ‘difference’ in this world. Like a child towards a parent, I performed to please Him, as well as for the praises of my brothers and sisters.
It may sound off-putting, but having been slowly ‘weaned’ of God I now enjoy an internal quiet and calm that comes from knowing that He loves me as I am, that I need not (nor could I ever) perform well enough to earn His pleasure. I understand that God is not interested in profound eloquence, great accomplishments, mighty battles won or crusades fought well. He does not require great sacrifices or offerings and flamboyant achievements and spectacular miracles are not the daily fare of a disciple. As I stopped working so hard at being a good Christian I began to rest in His grace.
I still thirst for God but He calls me with whispers, not exhortations. Though I may not always be aware of His presence, I trust that He has not left me. It is that same trust that allowed me to venture outside of the sanctuary of the modern church and see what God has been up to with the rest of His children. Occasionally even sharing a meal or two with them.