Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Song of the Semi, Reprise

On my bike ride home tonight, the paths along the river were empty.  It was not, however, a quiet ride.  On this warm evening, a noisy, grating choir has resumed its familiar anthem.  The semi (Japanese cicada), clearly appreciating the warm weather as much as I have been, have taken up their places on trees and bushes.

It doesn't feel like all that long ago that I last wrote about the semi.  Yet, more than 8 months have passed since I wrote that post... 8 months since the school-year started.  The semi remind me that life keeps moving and that it is full of new beginnings.

While I'm comforted by this, I'm also feeling convicted and challenged: I don't want to simply allow my life to cycle through the seasons and find each Springtime exactly the same as the one before.  How can I possibly ensure that I have grown and found direction since the last time the semi were out?

Certainly, there have been times where I felt as though I'd regressed, even more times when I felt I was simply spinning my tires and going nowhere.  What I've learned firsthand in this past month is that prayer is no mere ritual, not just a hoop for believers to jump through several times a day to make God happy... prayer is our way of communicating with our Father, and it is through this relationship above all others that we grow.

I'm not patting myself on the back or anything: I didn't discover some new, previously unknown truth that magically made me more Christian.  Instead, I felt so overwhelmed by so many responsibilities, and at the same time, felt so lonely and disconnected from God that I had no choice but to trust.  It's difficult to describe now, but it was a feeling that I had better dedicate myself completely, that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by filling my life with prayer.

We (meaning I and many others I know) often talk about trust as though it were on some kind of gradient scale: "well I kind of trusted God at this time in my life, but then maybe a little less later on, and..."  That's false... trust is not a continuum.  Either we trust, or we don't.  If we say we kind of trust in someone, that means we also kind of doubt them, too, and that ultimately means we DON'T trust them... thinking of a typical trust exercise, would you tip backwards off of a table if you "kind of" trusted that the person standing below would catch you?  There have been times in the past month where I haven't trusted, same as other months.  What's different now is that I realize that those times require my attention and prayer--it's easier to overlook those moments if I package them as "trusting a little less" because hey, it's still trust, right?  But most times that I have felt doubt or emptiness in the past month, I have responded by praying... praying to trust, praying for a prayerful response in future situations of doubt.  And do you know what?  I'm increasingly finding trusting to be a much easier thing to do.

Despite the stress, illness and weariness of this past month, I am grateful for the lessons I've learned, and for God who has drawn me close when I felt most distant.

With this in mind, I look forward to May and beyond as the season of the semi starts once again.

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