Answering God – 40 Days with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.
(Advices & Queries – Conclusion)
From the Scriptures:
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
As have gone through this Lent I have often wondered why I chose those words for the title of these Reflections. From the very beginning they seemed to ‘fit’ and have become for me part of the way I now use Dwelling in the Word (about which we spoke on Day 31).
Pedantically the words come from the conclusion of the Advices which calls us to;
[Answer] that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.
But it is deeper than just that public response to God’s love.
To ‘Answer God’ calls us to live a life that, like the mother of Jesus, is a continual ‘Yes’. The words ‘Answering God’, yet again calls Dag Hammarskjöld’s famous meditation[i] from his book ‘Markings’ to mind:
For all that has been, Thanks.
To all that shall be, Yes
My journey with the Beloved, as I have mentioned before, has not always been smooth. Occasionally I have felt I am being sought out by God just so that I can be punished. Yet down the years I have learnt the liberating lesson that my being chased by the Hound of Heaven is not so that I can be caught out but so that I may be loved more deeply, especially in my darkest places.
The very first words our Beloved spoke to the man and the woman in the Garden was the question, ‘Where are you?’ and that question has been at the heart of God’s quest to love us from then until the glorious day when we all feast at the Banquet of the Lamb. It seems that living the Gospel is all about only ever ‘Answering God’ as day by day the words ‘Where are you?’ meet us.
So, after all the Advices, after all the Scripture readings and prayers, after all the meanderings of these mediations, we are left with three little words that are God’s love song to us; ‘Where are you?’
Each day as you rise hear God say ‘Where are you?’ and try to respond like Samuel with ‘Here, I am.’
Each day as you go about your business, like the lovers in the Song of Songs, go on aquest for the Beloved amongst the faces of those who you meet and with whom you share your life, seeking that of God in everyone whispering ‘Where are you?’
Each day as you come to rest, inevitably spent by life, feeling saddened or successful hear the Beloved say ‘Where are you?’ and know that the answer is always ‘Safe in the circle of your love’
Humbly we pray
that this mind may be steadfast in us,
and that through these our hands,
and the hands of others
to whom thou shalt give the same spirit,
thou wilt vouchsafe to endow
the human family with new mercies.
1) Read slowly the note from ‘Advices & Queries’ above again
2) It’s Easter Day, eat some chocolate! (Other celebratory foods are available.
What Happens Now?
On the Wednesday of Easter Week I will begin re-posting some of my Lenten Reflections from previous years. It somehow that Easter has yet to arrive and we are in some sort of Lent v2.0 which will require that we keep focussed on the deeper parts of our journey homeward
The first series is called ‘Walking in the Footsteps of Christ’ and uses the Rule of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis as its inspiration
I will not be emailing these as many readers have already received them but please ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ one of my Social Media streams
if you would like to read them again.
Quotes from ‘Advices & Queries’ are copyright © The Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, 1995, 1997 and 2008
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Prayers from ‘Prayers for Hard Times’ are copyright © Becca Anderson 2017
These Reflections, ‘Answering God’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2020 – and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged