Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tears of the Spirit.

Thou tellest my wanderings: Put thou my tears into thy bottle; are they not in thy book? Psalm 56:8
Jesus was a man of sorrows & acquainted with grief. If I had to name an all time favourite bible verse, the one I return to again & again, the one that most deeply touches my heart it would be simply this: Jesus wept. It says everything, doesn't it?

We are all acquainted with grief. Life can be hard. Things happen. We partake of sorrow. We have wept into our pillows at night like Job & railed at heaven. If you are like me you've ranted rabidly at God so one of the things that I have struggled with in my prayer life is less grief than the tears of the spirit ~ & you know, no~one talks about it though I believe the Eastern Orthodox has some tradition & understanding of what happens.

Um, yeah. I can hear you. What is she on about this time? Ladies, if you have experienced this please speak up because I can assure you nothing makes me feel more like a complete & utter dill than to be quietly sitting in Meeting meditating on God & to suddenly have tears streaming down my face for no discernible reason! Only one thing is worse: holy laughter. Makes you seem quite mad but I can assure you that whatever it looks like I am completely sane!

I have spoken here & there on prayer, on entering into the silence, on entering into the very presence of God, on listening in prayer. What I have avoided are the less tangible, more uncertain aspects that I don't quite understand. The tears of the spirit fall into this category.

Now I know most of you aren't Quakers but I will assume the Spirit isn't choosy & sometimes operates the same way regardless of denominational differences. For me tears happen so regularly I am accustomed to experiencing them as part of my *centering*. Entering the silence, *centering* can sometimes be very difficult. Other times it happens with relative ease. Then there are the times when it is as though the spirit overshadows me & tears well up in a great gush & a deep sadness engulfs me.

It is true I am the emotional sort. I laugh & cry with embarrassing ease. For a long time I thought it was just me being me ~ embarrassing as that may be. Then I realised I never cry in just this way & I never cry like this unless I am in prayer. Lightbulb moment! If it's not me then what is going on here?

I have had some thoughts on the matter. Just one or two, you know. Firstly Scripture tells us that it is given to us to partake in Christ's sufferings. I can be very literal. I've found God isn't. Christ suffers for the world still: for it's sin; for it's injustice; for it's violence & for it's poverty of spirit. Christ suffers for mankind made in the image of God distorted. Scripture tells us that our hearts of stone will be replaced with hearts of flesh. Lastly we are told that when we don't know how to pray the Holy Spirit will pray on our behalf with deep groanings.

What is going on? When I shut up & stop telling God, when I start asking how I should pray & what it is that God would have me petition Him about, the Lord can give me His mind, His heart, His spirit & that changes something in me. It empties me of ME, ME, ME. Trust me, this is a good thing! Only then can the Spirit minister as He wishes. Only then can Christ share His grief. It can be devastating. Shattering. What possible purpose can it serve?

Well, I've thought about that too. I can be very hard, very selfish. I think, if we are honest, that is true of most of us at least some of the time. When we are like that we can't effectively be Christ's servant hands & feet, we can't be His agents of love to a broken & damaged world. Tears humble us. They break us. They gentle us & make us vulnerable. When we are humble & broken & gentle Christ can work through us. His compassion for His world invades our very souls & we see it with His eyes rather than eyes grown weary of the struggle to reach the unreachable, teach the unteachable, minister to those who resent us.

Psalms says God collects our tears in a bottle. This refers to the ancient practise of lachrymotories ~ plain earthenware vessels used to collect tears at funerals & buried with the corpse. A little over the top even in the ancient world. Tacitus expressly forbade the practise for his burial. Jesus wept. His tears are stored with ours, recorded with ours in God's book because God does not forget: not our own deep personal griefs, not the tears we shed by the Holy Spirit. God is in the business of changing His people, molding them into the image of Christ, a holy people, a compassionate people. There must be tears: tears of repentance; tears of sorrow, tears of joy.

I do not find the tears of the Spirit easy to bear but they are necessary. I weep for myself & the sin that besets me. I weep for the world that knows Him not. I weep for the fallenness & brokenness. I weep because Jesus wept. It is part of sharing His sufferings.


seekingmyLord said...

Ganeida, sometimes I think we must be spiritual twins...scary for you, that. Too, too much to comment on right now and I am under a deadline for my article. I will be pondering these thoughts more later and I will get back with you. Oh, has Liddy gone back yet?

Ember said...

Sometimes the Spirit weeps through me for the world, and there is deep sadness. But sometimes also tears are healing and beautiful. Oftentimes I weep, or have seen others weep, not because they are sad but because they must speak of those things that touch the very core of them, and the intensity of reality becomes overwhelming.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: Liddy has gone back. Sadly we must revert to e~mailing. ♥ The word for you is *Wait*. lol Bet you're tired of hearing that one.

Ember: Yes. I didn't get onto the naunces of tears but you are quite right. Thank you for your discernment.

Amanda said...

Yes, I am another twin. ;) Ganeida, I love tears that flow, when it is the Holy Spirit. It is a very intimate time with the Him. Also, I can't believe how you spoke of the short scripture... the shortest sentence in the Bible. I was just thinking about it last night.

I love what you have said here. And yes, He gives us Holy laughter also. I have experienced both... admittedly not the laughter for a while, but it used to happen quite frequently once upon a time.

I think you connect with the Spirit of God, that alone causes us to weep... because it is so beautiful and so real and precious, our spirits cry within us. I believe it is also as you have described... connecting and relating to His sorrow and grief.

Lovely post...

joyfulmum said...

Ganeida you are not alone:) I am not a very emotional type but I often cry in prayer and I believe it's the Holy Spirit interceding through in Romans 8. Well articulated by you:)

LightBulb_88 said...

Agreed, Ganeida. A burden, yet also a joy to experience part of God's heart through tears and laughter. I always enjoy the clarity and "realness" of the thoughts you express.

LobStar_89 said...

In-expressable joy! :)

Jo said...

I can cry at the drop of the hat.

I particularly liked the bit you wrote about stop telling God what to do, I think that is the problem with most of us, too quick to tell God how to do things (I wrote briefly on this on Sunday) rather than moving over to the passenger seat and allowing God to drive.

seekingmyLord said...

Just a quick note: church members have reported either the Lord has been silent or He tells us to wait. People are listening who have not really listened before, which is a very good thing. I am not tired of hearing "wait" on this one, it is least, I see the necessity. In fact, I am not expecting an answer until after the fast and then only if certain things happen...sometimes I feel what one knows and feels spiritually is too illusive to put into words.

My husband and I talked about it much last night. In general, people did not make sacrifices, not real sacrifices, but more of a trimming of the fat in their lives, but it is still an important start. Most of these people have never fasted before at all. He feels people will see this fast as a finish, rather than a beginning, and that beginning is not so much answer about the church, but changes within themselves that will change the church within. Would not be the first time people fasted looking for a particular answer from God and God said you must change. We have seen some changes, but more are I am fine with "wait."

The Lord keeps bringing to me the parable of the talents, that he is giving not according to need but according to whom He can trust and I was in tears just yesterday, because...well, because the Spirit is heartbroken about it, I think. It is very hard to watch some of the people struggle knowing their pride is what keeps them from the blessings. They just need to surrender to the Spirit. Yes, I can accept "wait," because the end result will be so worth it.

Oh, no. There I go, again. I should not have come here first thing. I am going to end up writing a book and I still have to work on my health article due this morning about dreaded GM/GE/GMO (Frankenfoods), another subject of which I am very passionate, as you know, so I am going to let this hang and write later. Sorry!

Gerry Snape said...

Oh how I love that verse and your post Ganeida. I cry at the drop of a hat! but in his presence it flows and is a releasing weep. with this and ember and santo jude today I thank god for his worldwide people who he inspires to write in his name and the spirit who moves over the whole earth.What with that and a lovely chat this morning with a good friend who also happens to be the vicar's wife much sharing ..what a great day and what a good God.

Ganeida said...

Amanda: Ah yes. ☺ But I was raised Anglican, attended a Presbyterian church for many years & on the island was part of a non~denominational church & sad to say, tears in church just isn't done! So I am so thrilled to see so many speak up & say yep, God got me too! lol

Joyfulmum: So nice to see you & my Liddy [Lobstar89] also here because I know my Lid is not the emotional sort!

Lightbulb88: In the Lord one never gets quite *finished*; one never stops learning & growing & one of my deepest joys is that even the old & infirm have a place & a ministry in the Kingdom. Thank you for your sweet words.

Really, Lid? ;P

Jo: I soapbox rather well on *shut up telling God & start listening to what He has to say*. lol It's rather a bone of mine.

Seeking: no problem with the book. Will be in contact.

Gerry: I am so pleased to have blessed you. ☺

Jan Lyn said...

Brilliant. Yes, tears and laughter are both necessary and of the same vein for me at times now. Most often I enter into tears, though, in prayer or unprogrammed waiting worship is a comfort that Jesus wept and we enter in and can weep too as to me it speaks clearly that he understands our condition. I often think, to pray is to change....God is within it transforming us. You've said it beautiful here...what a blessing!