We’re all pretty accustomed to the idea that God hears our prayers. All of them, instantaneously. We take that for granted. It goes hand in hand with his being omniscient. He knows all things, every single one. Remember how he knows how many sparrows there are, but even more perfectly how many hairs are upon your head? Figurative imagery to be sure, but the point is made.
We fudge things a bit, since we all know that plenty of our prayers are not answered. We seek wellness and our illness persists, our loved one’s die despite our best efforts in prayer, the job doesn’t come. The list is inexhaustible.
Deepak Chopra says:
“Action is always noticed by God; nothing goes unheeded.”
Well, I’m certainly glad that God heeds all my prayers, but I wish he would answer a few more than he actually does. Of course the atheist uses this fact to remind us that we are simply using a lot of wishful thinking. When only some ten percent of our prayers are “answered” and answered in a way that we deem appropriate, we are mostly quick to thank God as the source of our happiness. We fairly conveniently forget the ninety percent that don’t get a favorable response. We generically put them down to “sometimes the answer is ‘NO’.” Not particularly satisfying, but it’s all we have.
Yet, in looking at the statement again, I think an important fact is over looked. The word is ACTION is always noticed. Now I still have no doubt that God hears all my prayers, but I have long contended that God is not a God of interference. He cannot and does not meddle in human affairs, such as granting wishes to Disney World.
If that were the case, than there is no rational explanation why babies die of cancer and disaster upon disaster is piled upon some humans. All, or at least many have had plenty of prayers sent their way. For God (for whatever mysterious reason) to ignore them is unconscionable. Plain and simple. It does no good to spout “God’s ways are not our ways.” It doesn’t satisfy. Nor does, “it will all make sense to us in heaven.” It needs to make sense now.
What I contend, is that God effects real change in the world, but can only do so when we, his “images,” surrender our ego to his spirit within us. Then, we have give our permission, and God works through us to effect the world in ways wondrous and mundane.
It is in effect Action that never goes unnoticed, because God can work with Action. Our active willingness to co-create with God is the method through which God acts in the world. We can sit and think all day about how to change the world, but until we move off dead center, God’s hands are tied. He needs our hands and feet to accomplish the works of transformation.
This is not to say that changes of heart aren’t important. The person whose heart is softened can look the other way, not raise the baseball bat, not sign the petition of hate, not vote against the granting of rights to more people. These are actions in some sense. They are deliberate and conscience actions not to interdict good that is moving by.
Ascension day is upon us. As we ponder this day, it is easy to dismiss it all too cavalierly as mystery. I mean imagine Jesus rising in the air, rising through the atmosphere? Into the thinning oxygen. Into space, beyond the solar system? To somewhere, place, called Heaven? It is the thing that makes the average non-believer giggle with pleasure and recall stories of unicorns and fairies.
Yet we believe it is so. We believe that Jesus left us as a physical reality yet remains with us in Spirit. What is the lesson? What are we to recall from this Action?
Perhaps we are to realize that Jesus has left us on our own, to our own devices. He for a short time, showed us by words and by deeds the WAY. We were disciples, students, learning at his feet. We of course wish to remain in that place, forever at his feet. For that was and is comfortable.
His departure is unsettling, and makes us uneasy. We are now called to step up to the plate, and do more than listen and pray. We are called to act as he acted. Actions speak louder than words. An old refrain. I’m not sure it applied to Jesus, for his words were every bit as valuable as his actions. Yet his actions were jarring and definitive, whether in the cross or in the rising, or in the ascension.
For indeed, Jesus made it most clear that there is a time to speak, but ultimately words must give way to action, or the words are meaningless. We cannot sit comfortably dissecting and meditating on words, believing correctly, and merely piously reciting the rituals of faith. The Pharisees did that.
We must act upon those teachings if we are to be worthy of being his followers. By leaving, he pushed us from the nest so to speak, forcing us to fall or fly. Ascension is the call to action of our faith. Now we must carry forward the teachings of equality and justice for all. Carry them forward to a pre-occupied world who is too busy and all too often doesn’t believe in what we proclaim.