Some of us have a hard time feeling the gentle, constant flow of God’s will for us in the midst of the crashing waves that occur in our lives. If you’ve ever tried to calm a screaming, writhing, toddler, in the midst of a temper tantrum, you know that your most soothing and comforting voice just doesn’t seem to get through their ears to their unsettled mind. But we also know that screaming back at them will just make things worse. The only thing to do is be calm, consistent, persistent, and make sure that our calm and reassuring voice outlasts the frantic moments the toddler doesn’t realize could be over in a moment. When the tantrum suddenly ends, and they hear our calm voice, feel that we are holding them gently, it’s like magic. They settle in and accept the comfort only they chose to turn away from just moments before. It's a wonder, at times, that this can exist all in one and the same child!
How often, in our own lives, are we writhing and protesting, perhaps even to God in a so called prayer, so fervently that we’ve forgotten how to be still, to listen? When is the last time you can remember being so still, so quiet and open, that you might hear the whispers of God in your ear?
There is no doubt that the world, our lives, are loud. The things that we feel happen to us, the voices and criticisms of others, even our own internal voice, are all so loud. I see so many people, on social media, post about wanting a feeling, a state of being, where the criticisms of others are quiet, without affect. Often times, however, we mistake wanting to be free of the loud voices of the world, and sometimes even our own voice, for wanting to hear God’s voice. Most times, we just want to hear what WE desire to hear, our own version of things, but we aren’t willing to be so still and quiet to actually hear what God has to offer. Think about that for a moment. How often do we REALLY want to hear God versus just wanting to hear things WE desire to hear?
This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip, another loud voice you have to contend with. When Christ teaches us not to conform to the world, it’s a call for us to recognize where we can find true Comfort. What does the world worship? Power, beauty, strength, winning, competition….the world beckons you to exert your will, act, become something, never stop. Most of us are in some kind of vague denial that ultimately, in the end, it will all stop. We all have to eventually confront the silencing of the world we’ve created- but it does not need to be something negative. Just as in our true moments of silence in life, God’s voice becomes so clear, imagine His presence when the world is truly quiet, at our ultimate ending.
The fact that Christ came into the world as a Lamb, rather than a lion, is a profound example for us. Could God have sent a Son wielding unlimited power to vanquish any foes that might come? Yes, undoubtedly. So, since God could have done this, why didn’t He? Why would he send a lamb, his own Son, into a world that slaughters lambs?
Of course there are an infinite number of teachings one could find in Christ’s arrival in the world as a Lamb. But what does it mean for us as we acknowledge a desire for something more than the world’s deafening call? Many will look past the quiet Lamb as they forge into a world that still has their attention, their trust. But for one who has started to see the Lamb, as they tire of the false promises of a fleeting world, a new Way has become visible.
Much like the loving parent comforting the screaming toddler, Christ abides. He does not try to compete with noise, overpower our will, nor does he let us go. Have you ever seen a parent holding a child in a physical and emotional temper tantrum? It’s almost magical how they can move with the violent thrashing of the child, holding them while at the same time allowing them to kick and twist and do what they need to do. In a similar way, Christ holds us, invisible to us due to our own writhing, until we are still and we finally feel His arms around us.
This is the Lamb. He reaches us through self sacrifice, through a gentle and eternal presence, because He knows that our true nature has not to do with something being added to us, by gaining something or becoming something more, but by what is stripped away. The toddler does not settle into the arms of their mother because she conquers them, forces change on them, but because she yields, without actually letting go, until what blinds and binds the child falls away.
The Lamb of God becomes more and more accessible to us as the tantrum of the world falls away from our attention. As we recognize the Lamb within, Christ within us, we become less and less separate from Him. Christ even shows us, in His death, His execution, that even He must yield, in the ultimate sense, to find God. Without His sacrifice, His separation from God would remain.
We can apply these things to the big picture of our lives, the life and death state we find ourselves in, but also to the smaller, individual, situations we deal with. When life doesn’t turn out as we planned, how will we react? Do we listen to the world and fight, use our power and strength, rely on the very things that are failing us as things seem to go sideways? Or do we find ultimate strength in yielding, in faith, and trusting that when we stop writhing, we will find the arms of Christ fully supporting us?
There is no doubting the fact that we often have to have our tantrums, our rock bottoms, before we can begin to see, and feel,something more. I pray that in those moments, in our exhaustion, our frustration, our attempts at justifying our trust in the world, that we can stop, be still, and relax into what has always been waiting for us.