Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Reaching for Quietness

In The Fire of Delayed Answers, author Bob Sorge, discusses two camps (or two dominating ideas) of Christian faith, at least as practiced in the United States. The camp of quietness emphasizes the sovereignty of God; the camp of confidence emphasizes “the availability of God’s promises and power to those who believe.” And there you have to two major wings of evangelical Christianity in America.

We didn’t know it at the time, or refer to it this way at the time, but the terms fit. And they’ve fit for a long time. When we moved to St. Louis in the late 1970s, we had a difficult time finding a church like we had in Houston. In Houston, we attended a church that Sorge would characterize as firmly in the camp of confidence. We couldn’t find a similar church in St. Louis, and we ended up at a church just as firmly in the camp of quietness.

Some years later, we did find a new church (confidence camp) and another that was closer to where we had moved (again, confidence camp). When that church began to blow up, we eventually found our way to where we are now, a Presbyterian church that is heart and soul in the camp of quietness (Presbyterian is another name for “sovereignty,” I think).

The fact is, you need both camps. And the fact is, you rarely find both in the same church. But you can individually keep the two in balance, until, as Sorge puts it, the Assyrians invade and “all hell breaks loose.” He says it’s amazing how quickly “our quietness and confidence can disappear. It can be an enormous challenge to rebuild both quietness and confidence while the crisis continues to rage about us.”

Did someone say crisis? What crisis?

What crisis, indeed.

A very close relative has just been moved to hospice care.

I haven’t had a boss at work in over four months, the organization is being reorganized around us, and I’m not likely to have a boss for at least another four months.

In the past six months, our church has lost almost all of its pastors and some key staff people. The elders are working very hard to lead, which I think will be a very good thing for the long run. In the short term, things seem bewildering at times (and I’m a deacon).

Two of the organizations I write for online are experiencing change, and both are still sorting things out.

It does feel at time the Assyrians have arrived. I don’t feel quiet, and I don’t feel particularly confident.

But I know which camp I lean towards in a time like this one, and that’s the camp of quietness, the cleft in the rock away from the wind and fire.

As Sorge says, hear of the heart of your Father:

“Find a place of quietness in Me by settling your soul and stilling your spirit, and relinquish everything into My hands; and let your heart rise up in confidence in Me, by pressing into My face, devouring My word, claiming My promises, and making the good confession.”

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading The Fire of Delayed Answers. Today concludes the discussion on chapter 10, “The Dance of the Two Camps.” To see more posts on this chapter, please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.

Photograph by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.


kchripczuk said...

It seems to me that both camps can have their draw-backs - quietness is too often a cover for "I'll take care of it myself" or "I refuse to really acknowledge feeling anything" and confidence also can too often be a false covering for numbness. I would like to suggest a third camp somewhere more along the lines of those psalmists who rattled heaven's door with tears and accusations, the Hannahs who wept, the persistent widows and Naomis who felt their circumstances so strongly they could not keep quiet. This is what I find missing too often in evangelical churches - a good strong ability to lament which is, ironically, ultimately rooted in trust (ie. confidence in God's ability AND sovereignty AND God's love of our humanity).

diana said...

Amen to what Kelly said! And thank you, Glynn, for so faithfully reporting on and responding to this book. I am sorry for all the upheaval in your life at the moment. I've got a little of that going on myself. And it's never fun, is it? But God is faithful, even in the midst of confusion. I'm counting on that.

Anonymous said...

i agree with leaning toward, and on the Lord in Jesus and putting everything into the Lord's hands. That way it benefits self and others in any situation...or camp activity.

jasonS said...

It's so interesting how we tend to lean toward one side or another at different moments and situations. Learning to balance both is incredibly difficult (especially as the Assyrians surround us), but it reinforces our dependence on His voice and our relationship with Him. Great thoughts, Glynn. Thank you.

David Rupert said...

GY, thanks for voicing this frustration, as I share at least one of them with you. I dont like change much these days and everything in me just wants it to stop. But my pastor said something this last week. "Embrace the struggle, embrace the discomfort."

What is God saying through all of this?