Powerful Prayers vol. viii “I Want To Stop Running”
I Want To Stop Running: by Kenneth Phifer
Eternal God, you are a song amid silence,
A voice out of quietness,
A light out of darkness,
A presence in the emptiness,
A coming out of the void.
You are all of these things and more.
You are mystery that encompasses meaning,
Meaning that penetrates mystery.
You are God,
I am man.
I strut and brag.
I put down my fellows
And bluster out assertions of my achievements.
And then something happens:
I wonder who I am,
And if I matter.
I am alone in the dark and afraid.
I feel so powerless.
A child is born,
I am touched by the miracle of new life.
At such moments I pause…
To listen for a song amid silence,
A voice out of stillness,
To look for a light out of darkness.
I want to feel a Presence in the emptiness.
I find myself reaching for a hand.
Oftentimes, the feeling passes quickly,
And I am on the run again:
Success to achieve,
Money to make.
O Lord, you have to catch me on the run
Most of the time.
I am too busy to stop,
Too important to pause for contemplation.
I hold up too big a section of the sky
to sit down and meditate.
But even on the run,
An occasional flicker of doubt assails me,
And I suspect I may not be as important
To the world
As I think I am.
Jesus said each of us is important to you.
It is as if every hair of our heads were numbered.
How can that be?
But in the hope that it is so,
I would stop running,
And be myself.
Let me be still now.
Let me be calm.
Let me rest upon the faith that you are God,
And I need not be afraid.
(* from Kenneth Phifer’s book “A Book of Uncommon Prayer”)
There truly is not much for me to say about this prayer. The deep, heartfelt words paint a very real tapestry that many will instantly connect with.
When I first meditated on this prayer, I was at a monastery with some other pastors, and one line captured my attention more than any other:
“I hold up too big a section of the sky to sit down and meditate.”
Even now, those words roll over me and leave me feeling somewhat uneasy. I’m uneasy because that is very often how I feel. My biblical theology tells me that it is God who holds up the sky, but if that is so, why does so much of it seem to depend on me?
My practical theology tells me that it is impossible for me to hold up a big section of the sky, and that if I think I am, I need to let it go, but if that is true, why does it seem so many people and things really do depend on me?
We are forever in the catch-22 of monergism and synergism, how much is mine and how much is God’s. When we think that too much depends on us, we posses weary souls, tired feet, and frazzled emotions. When we think that too much depends on us, we create God in our own image. When we create God in our own image, there is no one left who is stronger than ourselves to lift us from the tangled web of living. When we think too much depends on us, our self-importance creates an ego that fills the universe, so of course there is no time to relate with a God who is smaller than we are.
Yet, in our over inflated bigness, Jesus still loves us, still calls us, still waits…
As he graciously reminds me of His power, passion, and presence, I relax, realizing He not only holds up all of the sky, but He made it too. Then I breathe the final words of the prayer:
“I would stop running, stop shouting, and be myself. Let me be still now. Let me be calm. Let me rest upon the faith that you are God, and I need not be afraid.”
God has your corner of the sky,