Thursday, 10 March 2016

Extravert and introvert

In Exodus 32 the children of Israel in the wilderness abandon God for idol worship. Moses foresees fatal consequences to this rebellion. He engages with God, arguing on behalf of the people, 

'Why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and a mighty hand?' (Ex 32:11)

He pleads with God not to tarnish His reputation as their liberator from slavery, by going back on his covenant promises. The conversation represents an anthropomorphic idea of the divine, but contains the thought that prayer involves free and honest exchange between a human being and God. This is more important than the primitive ideas of divine volatility and vindictiveness it also contains. 

Over  several millennia, ideas of God evolve significantly and are expressed with both simplicity and sophistication, as the creative use of language develops. The nature of the prayer conversation changes, but the honest personal quality of the relationship between man and God remains. God doesn't take offence when we remind him of his promises.

'Lord, remember me out of the love you have for your people.' (Psalm 106:4)

In the Psalms as well as in everyday life we hear from people who tend to take time to think out what they wish to say before saying it, and people who tend to discover what they think by talking things through. There can be an element of each type in each of us, in response to different circumstances, and this affects how we come to prayer.

Some find settling into silent adoration easy, since their natural tendency is to turn and look within. Others tend to look outward more naturally and only when they are at ease and in connection with their environment, do they come to rest. For some, time in silence issues in an expression of praise and thanks, whilst for others the expression of praise and thanks gives away to silence eventually. 

In each instance, the fruit of the Spirit is recognisable, and the peace of God's love prevails in relationships with each other, and with Him at all times. He is the focus of our inner stability and our outward responsiveness.

'I praise the Lord, who gives me counsel, who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord always before me; He is at my right hand, and I shall not be moved.'
(Psalm 16:7-8)

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