21st Century Malaise & the Superficial Search

Why is the contemporary spiritual search often so shallow? The first verse of Psalm 62 reveals four reasons. (And I love the CGI artwork by Jim Knepler).

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. (English Standard Version, Psalm 62:1.)

1) THE Psalmist practiced exclusivity; we live in an age of polyvocality & inclusivity. We listen to many voices and consider all. We value multi-tasking. We like the many not the few. We’re eclectic and blend multi-sources. We read many books. “FOR GOD ALONE.” There is only one and no other. He warned us: you can have no other Gods before me (or beside me or in addition to me.)

2) The Psalmist waited; we live in an instant age. We know great wine and cheese take time to age. A masterpiece of art or literature usually ferments in the craftsman’s mind for years before it flows onto canvass or page. Yet, everything in our culture drives us to expect things fast. I’m reminded of David Brooks “Bobo’s in Paradise” where the young fast-tracker seeking the spiritual sits impatiently by the river glancing at his watch and reminding the “great other” that he has dinner reservations back in town at 6PM. “Show up Oh Master of the Universe, and show up now,” we demand. “My soul waits,” says the Psalmist. God is worth the wait but only the patient will ever know.

3) The Psalmist knew silence; we are surrounded by a cacophony of sound. Technology has “portabalized” sound so we can take it with us everywhere. The hiker heads into the wild, warmed by a new REI jacket and cheered by the iPod strapped to her waist. Her companion, he misses the songs of the cardinal and nuthatch, because his Bose headset snuggles his ears and pipes Zero 7 into his brain. “My soul waits in silence.” I picture the young shepherd boy David, tending his sheep, watching for predators, listening to the brook where the ewes drink deeply. God appears when we wait and God speaks when we are quiet and can hear His still, small voice.

4) The Psalmist knew He needed salvation and that God could provide it; we think we need a self-improvement book, some fine tuning, maybe a health club membership, a second home in the mountains or a new car. Pascal’s metaphor of a God-shaped vacuum shows solidarity with the Psalmist; there is a space only God can fill. Each religious tradition articulates the same thing through a variety of metaphors. We are sick and need to be healed. We are blind and need to see. We are asleep and need to awaken. We are in bondage and need to be freed. Only God can save us and we need to be saved.

Why read scripture every day? It is timeless and true. It is a refreshing tonic, a light rain on the rose garden, a torrential downpour on the thirsty, dry riverbed. The Bible is the word that leads to the living word, the one who is life and offers springs of living water and bread for the journey.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. (English Standard Version, Psalm 62:1.)

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in March 3, 2005 by | No Comments »

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