Monday, May 18, 2009

Song of the Whip-Poor-Will

It's a relentless call--that of the whip-poor-will--a lullaby that blankets the dusk as she fades into night. I've known her song since I was old enough to remember she was a bird whose face wouldn't be seen in the daytime. And I've loved her. Who wouldn't? Her voice almost speaks into the darkness insisting that her lover join her on some distant tree's limb. Her call continues long past other nighttime voices repeating the same words over and over and over again. She won't quit her song until it has accomplished it's goal. From the jam-froth pink bedroom of the cabin my father crafted to the bayou-mist of the bedroom my mother let me paint and then finally the slumbering hues of these walls where I now lay down my head, I have always heard a whip-poor-will's call. Just last week it was some time after 3 in the morning and still she sang. I had cracked the window to hear her more clearly and let her song shush my heart back to sleep when God whispered, "That's how I pursue you, Sarah." And just like that I saw Him differently that I had before. I imagined His own words to me, "Sarah, I love you. I love you. I love you. " Over and over and over again. They never stop. He never stops. His love never fails. It's like a cliche and because it is like a cliche our ears get to the point where they don't hear the words anymore. Growing up in a Christian family I heard those words my entire life. When that's the case, their meaning becomes diluted with the passing of time until one day the fact that God's love never fails, never ends doesn't alter our outlook on life. We no longer see life through His love, we see His love as a faded childhood photo somewhere on a distant wall. And yet He calls still. Again and again. In speaking of the restoration of Israel, Jeremiah 31:3 holds one of my favorite passages in scripture. "In a far-off land the Lord will manifest himself to them. He will say to them, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you." It didn't matter what the Israelites had done--how many times they sold out to the nearest bidder--God's love for them continued. He pursued them across deserts, He called them across seas, He sang to them when they were in distant lands and He loved them no matter where they were. The beauty of His song is that it is for all mankind--He sings for you and He sings for me. He sings for our children and for our families. He sings for those who do not hear and for those who choose not to hear. He sings for those who will not listen and He'll never quit; never. And I can't help but think of the times in my own life when His call has gone unanswered. How many times have His words floated beyond my heart and scattered amidst the debris of my life while I chose instead to cling to worldly wisdom, to whatever was clear and right in front of me. How many times have I chosen to accept the things that are seen instead of believing in His love? And I can't help but think of the people in my life now who I wish could hear His song. I want to grip their hearts and pry them open making room for this tender love song, and yet I cannot. You know people like that too. You have children for whom you've prayed and prayed. You have Fathers and grandmothers and sisters for whom you've interceded, and yet they do not hear. May I just say to you He still sings--even in places far off. When our voices have grown hoarse with our own attempts to share the truth, His has only grown stronger. Sometimes I think Christians get so caught up in the newest book or theology or new approaches to having church that we drown out our Father's song. We make so much of our own noise that we can't even hear His call let alone those we love and want to reach. There are the great theologians and the lofty thinkers, but I resolve to remain a simple follower--a follower of my Savior's song. As long as I hear His song, I know I am near Him, following Him, in the right place. I know I am home. May our own response to His song be so vivid that those around want to join in the chorus. The whip-poor-will sang long that night. I lost my wakefulness while still she sang. Our heavenly Father's pursuit continues too. May we have ears to hear. Pray with me: Father, thank you for your pursuit of my heart. Thank you that you call to me long into the nightimes in my life. Thank you that you sing when I listen and you sing when I join in and you sing when I hold my hands over my ears in stubborn rebellion. Forgive me for ignoring you. Teach me to believe that your love is greater than the sum of my life and that somehow in relaxing into your unfailing love, I will find rest. Amen. Read with me: I Cor. 13 Psalm 89


Anne Arnold Pierce said...

Thank You Sarah,
I can hear the call.

Bretta said...

Even after many years of walking with God, Ward and I are both discovering God's love in a new way lately. Thanks for sharing. Love you!