The go-to place in the summer was North Beach. We would spend hours tossing the frisbee, washing away the sweat and sand with a quick plunge. The water for a good distance was shallow and then the bay floor dropped off. You could be thigh-deep and within a step or two in water over your head. I don’t mean it was so deep you couldn’t touch bottom but you had to work at it.
On the other side of the globe from North Beach is the Mariana Trench, located south of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. This formation gives a whole new definition to ‘drop off’. You could grab Mount Everest, place it peak-first into the Mariana Trench and still have over 2000 m. between the mountain base and the ocean surface. Said another way, the trench is about 11,000 m. deep.
No matter how hard a swimmer worked at it, they will not plumb this ocean valley. It’s more than the depth, it’s the weight of the water. At the bottom of the trench, the pressure is 1000 times greater than air at sea level. An unprotected human diver could not survive.
Wading Out Into Wonder
The everyday meaning underneath the English term ‘glory’ is weight. When applied to God, ‘glory’ conveys the manifestation of his greatness, transcendence, splendour and might (Ps 24:7-10). God’s glory is the Mariana Trench of his holy presence. The depth is unfathomable and the weight unbearable.
That truth does not restrict us to shore. We can still enter the water and wade out until we are in over our head and the bottom is beyond our easy reach. Here we can experience a degree of God’s glory, even though the full measure is a world away.
How To Get In Over Your Head With God
In my experience, the twin disciplines of silence and solitude help me leave the beach of busyness and find depth and weight within the ocean of God’s presence. I find solitude is easier. Early morning is the most reliable time to withdraw from personal interactions and external responsibilities. Silence is tougher. Thoughts, doubts, plans, regrets and more clank around in my head. The noise is distracting. Centring my thoughts on a Scripture portion or on a short prayer brings quiet.
Now I am ready to go deeper, to be attentive to God. Now I am ready to listen and learn, to hear God correct and affirm. It is glorious!
What are the noises and distractions that make it hard for you to experience God? What practices help you to become more attentive to God’s presence?
Post: Listening Prayer