-or, for those who think they need a priest.
This story was written last summer, a time of confusion concerning “what to do with my life.” All those young adult questions- Who? What? When? flooded my mind ad nauseum. (they still do some days). I wanted a priest. Someone to say “thus saith the Lord, now go and do it.” But late one night I wrote this story. And looking back, I think it was of the Spirit. And the answer is never what I think it is, and I’m thankful that our great King meets this young woman in her self-centered questioning and leads her to the only thing that really matters…worship.
The girl walks through the courtyard. It’s dark. The slight wind is in her hair. She pulls her scarf around her head and enters the inner sanctuary. The stone walls are cool tonight and torchlight flickers through the compound. A few modest benches make up the sanctuary, with an altar at the front.
The girl pauses a moment and smiles- o, to be the boy Samuel, sleeping by the ark of the covenant. But this is the new covenant, and God dwells not in temples built by man but in his people. She sighs. That’s still a little confusing.
She approaches the altar. “Mordecai! Mordecai!” Where is the old priest? He lives in the clergy quarters, down a dark hallway off the sanctuary.
A little man with gray hair and a great, warm cloak emerges from a side room. He carries a scroll and pen.
“Child! So good to see you. Begging your pardon, I was working to translate some of Luther’s works. Sit down, dear. What’s on your mind?”
Without waiting for an answer, the priest put down his scroll and pen and shuffled into the night. The girl smiled again- he was going to the ancient well with the sweet water. It was the custom at the old sanctuary, for visitors in the night to have a cup of water.
He returned, and the girl settled into a bench to tell her woes.
“I had a plan and it was so perfect but now I don’t have a plan…what on earth am I doing?!” She speaks with the self-centered questions of a young woman desperate for purpose.
“Well, dearest, you know the one who does have a plan…” The priest smiles. He’s right.
“But why can’t God be clearer? I don’t know what to do. I miss him. I can’t sleep. O Mordecai, I lust, I think of the future, I don’t know how to glorify him!”
The old man puts a hand on her shoulder.
“My dear, it is not with me that you need to deal tonight.” He kisses her forehead and takes a candle back down the dark hallway to his quarters.
The girl looks ahead to the altar for several minutes, unmoving. Stubborn. She’s known it all along, of course. She would have to deal with Him. But He is so wild, so unpredictable, so untouchable. So all-knowing. It’s easier to have a man tell her what to do. She sighs and wraps her scarf about her head and face before walking back into the night, going past the compound, to the open field. It is dark. There is no light, no music, no altar, no benches. No Mordecai.
But – there are a million stars. They twinkle at her from every quarter of the sky. Her sighing soul smiles. She remembers why she has come. Do plans even matter out here?
“Infinite God of infinite God,” she whispers, and then is silent.
The night speaks, proclaims. Stars dance in their brilliance. Trees sway in the wind.
The wind. The Spirit.
Infinite God of infinite God. He is here, of course. He’s always been here, as near as her breath. But in this desolate darkness, she feels his presence more keenly than ever. The wind brushes across her face.
And she realizes- to deal with God directly is to worship. The sparkling expanse before her is but an echo of His majesty. It makes her catch her breath. Infinite God of infinite God, he is here.
He, who first created the dark, thick, beautiful, vast expanse.
He, who set forth his character in the lights that joyfully fill the sky.
He, who stooped right down to earth to breathe life into dust that would one day rebel.
He, whose love unstoppable compelled him to a wooden cross.
He, who rose again, the eternal King, reigning over all.
It is an eternal worship service she is witnessing. The stars cannot hold back from giving glory to their maker. She doesn’t speak. The sacred memorized verses cannot give form to her feeling in the presence of such majesty. She kneels.
And he speaks in gentleness across the sky. The good King, gentle, kind. Worthy of all her adoration. And yet he speaks. Reading her thoughts, the great I AM says “Who do you think I am, to be troubled about the making and breaking of plans? Is not everything in my hand? You and the man and your life and my kingdom? I am, after all, the king. I will never leave you nor forsake you, so rejoice, child! I’ll never leave you nor forsake you! I, who set the stars to dance in the night- will be your counsel. I will direct you. Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. My reign is unshaken, as is my love for you. Goodnight! Goodnight, fair one!”
And it bespeaks his greatness- that he is in control of all things. And his love- because he cares even for this sparrow.
This greatness and love is humbling- high praise pours forth from her heart. It is all she can do.
She doesn’t deserve to be noticed by this King.
But he, he deserves all praise, worship, and adoration.
Matthew 27:51a: “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom…”