When I watch Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya’s conversation’s with God feel very familiar to me. I too speak with God on a daily basis. Sometimes that speaking is in formalized prayer. Other times it is merely me rolling my eyes heavenward and asking silently “Really? Why today?” There is no indication that Tevya ever gets answers to his prayers, in fact the opposite is implied. Tevya is left to create his own answers as he tries to balance tradition with a fast changing world. I do get answers. Not all the time, not always clearly, but over the years God and I have developed a rich communication. Mostly those answers come as knowledge/concepts which my mind then turns into words. They are subtle and in earlier years I often confused them with my own desires. I still do sometimes, particularly when seeking answers on an emotional issue. Most of the time I receive these inspirations in direct answer to my prayers or requests. Occasionally I’ll be struck with one when I’m not seeking answers. My usual response to out-of-the-blue inspiration is to answer with the eye roll “Really? Why now?”
Yes I am aware that these answers could be coming from my own mind. I could be creating a comforting fiction of God. Except without fail those answers are right. They are right in ways that are impossible for me to predict. They are right for reasons which sometimes don’t become apparent until years after I have followed the instructions. Yes again, I could be justifying decisions after the fact by simply gathering evidence in support of them. I choose to believe that these answers come from a loving God who is as present in my life as I am willing to let Him be. That last bit is key. I can shut Him out. I can do the spiritual equivalent of sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loudly so that I will not hear Him. It is very tempting, because all too often the answers and inspirations I receive are quite difficult to follow through upon. So I grow a little shell for my heart. I hold up all the good things I am doing as a shield. “See God? I am going to church and teaching my children. I am doing regular service and reading my scriptures. It’s all pretty hard, so I should just keep working at it for awhile, right?” I stay busy with the good things I am doing so that I won’t have to do any more, rather like dodging a phone call from a friend because I think she’ll want me to volunteer for a bake sale.
This is where church meetings come in. One of those good things I use as a shield is church attendance. Except if I really want to avoid conversation with God, the last place I should go is His house. So I go there. I listen. I sing. Then my hard shell cracks open and inspiration pours in. It is like finally talking to that friend and discovering that, yes she wants me to volunteer for a bake sale, but she’s also wondering if she can come help me clean my house, plant flowers in my garden, and maybe repaint a little. I’ll have to help with all of those things too, of course. It will be work, but in the end I will be the biggest beneficiary. When the messages are clear, I adjust my life to make space for the work.
Thus I find myself posting about inspiration on the internet, which is notorious for swooping down upon people in very unpleasant ways. I also find myself tinkering with my weekly schedule because apparently getting my essay book done is still important. While I’m tinkering with the schedule Family Dinner needs to go back on it. In addition, I should keep up that time partitioning plan, because it is a really good thing. So I roll up my sleeves and start in on the work, realizing once again that perhaps I should listen to this particular friend more often. Even while He is handing out assignments, He is also doling out large measures of hope and energy. When I add His things into my life, the impossible is accomplished.