SEVER, ANGER AND SLUMBER
"I want to talk with you," God called a former murderer and said these words. Immediately, that man climbed a mountain and waited patiently for the One who had called to converse with him. On the contrary, there prevailed absolute silence. Awesome! No form of verbal communication. When there is no interactive conversation, naturally a person tends to dose off.
God did not speak. The first day passed by. All he could see were dense cotton-like clouds, as if thrown out from a sack in the sky placed together in one place. Smoke emanated and it looked like a violent volcano in action. He could experience the presence of God, but there was no conversation. Perhaps I would have kept quiet for a day, thrilled and visibly moved by the magnificent panorama and looking now and then at that strange sight.
The following day dawned. God did not speak. There was this man, standing or sitting as a single person. I guess he never slept. He was waiting to hear the voice of God, still sticking to his venerable virtue called patience. To me, that awesome sight became slight boredom. The clouds were still there, and the smoke seemed all the more intense and in flames, like wild consuming fire. My sense of wonder was gone, and I no longer recognised the grandeur of God's presence just close by. The second day faded in silence.
Had I been in his place, immediately I would have hurled words, forgetting even the awesome nature of the One who had called, saying, "Why this awful silence? Why are You not talking to me? Didn't You call me? Are You dumb? Why should You summon me at all for this no-conversation deal? Do You think that I have no other business to attend to? What do You think of Yourself?"
The third day blossomed. God never spoke. This man, about whom I am talking, held his peace and waited patiently on the call of God without wavering. He never grumbled, nor questioned. His relationship with the marvel, mystery and majesty of God was unshakable. In my case, I who had already questioned, now doubted the call and would have been seen descending the mountain to do what seemed 'better things' in my own perception.
Four, five and six silent days passed by. However, he waited and passed the paper on 'patience' with a solid score. The lesson that seeped into my skull is, "Wait patiently until you hear from God." King David said, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!" His firm faith that "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" moved me. The Psalmist says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry" (Psa.40:1).
Moses At Sinai
Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain. Now the glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud and went up into the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
While passing through an experience of such silent six days, we are called to pray without ceasing. Here we must remember the words of Jesus Christ to His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Only those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Two attributes should be absent in a person who waits patiently on God. They are anger and slumber.
Any human being is prone to anger the moment he senses his ship laden with dreams sailing in a different direction, contrary to where he intends to go. Anger brews in a heart that is anxious. Anxiety or worry cannot add a cubit to one's stature as expounded by Jesus Christ. Therefore, there is no point in getting angry. "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret; it only causes harm" (Psa.37:8). When one is angry, he has no control over his self and possesses a beastly behaviour. "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls" (Pro.25:28).
The Preacher makes a perfect statement, "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go" (Pro.22:24). James, the disciple of Jesus Christ, says, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (Jas.1:19,20). "Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil" (Eph.4:26-27).
There is an exception particularly where anger is aimed at bringing constructive reforms. For example, Jesus Christ got angry over people turning the temple of God into a business place.
Sleep, as everyone is aware of, is essential for effective functioning of the human system. In this context, slumber is the desire for excessive sleeping when one's hands should be on the plough. In the present situation, this means those who do not earn their living and sleep while they should be doing with all their might those things that come up their way, and yet have an access or provision for food at the cost of someone else.
Solomon, the wise, emphatically states, "Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread" (Pro.20:13). "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise" (Pro.6:6). "How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?" (Pro.6:9).
To receive a word from God, while waiting patiently, one has to denounce anger and slumber without reservations.