We Never Know...Until
On Sunday mornings, I visit a Quaker Church, where I sit quietly with the Quakers for an hour.
That’s it. That’s what they do.They sit in silence. For an hour.
You see, the Quakers believe that if you wait in silence, you will come into the presence of God.
Sometimes (but not often) in the silence, an elder is moved to stand up and speak a brief message.
Sometimes (but not often) it’s like this:
A man stands up. He’s very tall and very lean. His hair is thick, and white as snow; his face tan from the Arizona sun. He speaks with a southern drawl. His name is Beau. Beau seems almost as if he comes from another time…even though his Levis look new and his long-sleeved polo shirt hangs smartly on his angular frame.
Beau starts by reminding his listeners that George Fox suffered from a sickness of the soul that only Jesus Christ was able to heal. Then Beau speaks into the silence these words:
“Jesus was no snowflake.”
The soft white walls become luminous, and the silence in the room feels active, alert, attentive.
Jesus was no snowflake, Beau says. Then he adds,
“Jesus was a hard man.”
What does he mean, I wonder. What does Beau mean by “Jesus was a hard man?”
“Jesus was born into poverty. That’s hard. Jesus lived in oppressive, chaotic times. That’s hard. Jesus disagreed with people. That’s hard. He had a temper sometimes when faced with injustice, but He never stoped. He never stopped working hard to teach us. And they killed Him for it. And Jesus — He suffered when He died, but He never asked them to stop. He bore it. Yes, Jesus was a hard man.”
I start to choke up.
“And all He asked,” continues Beau, “His message, really, was that we work hard to change these things…and cut the other guy some slack.”
And then Beau sits down.
It would have been beautiful enough to hear this sun-baked senior speak these words. But there was more — for me, at least.
There is more for me when a 20-Something says, after the service,“That really struck me. I mean, when I hear 'Jesus,' I think of the peace-love-forgiveness thing.” He says it lightly, with a shrug of his shoulders.
He looks away and then back at me again, his tone now quick and intense. “But ‘Jesus was a hard man’ — I’ve never heard that.” His eyes light up. “I understand that. And to be honest, that’s more relevant to my life right now.” He pauses. “I really like that.”
We never know, my friends. We never know what’s going to light someone up, what words someone needs to hear about Jesus to catch their attention, make them think, draw them just a little bit nearer. We just never know.
Maybe we just don’t know what someone needs to hearuntil we sit in the silenceand wait for God to become present.
hard: not easily broken or bent