In Meeting for Worship this First Day morning, I found myself resting on two phrases:
Yes, I hear you.
Did you do your best?The first phrase, as I understand how I received it today, is almost like the answer to the popular joke, "God always answers your prayers. Sometimes the answer is No."
In this case, though, my own sense is that Yes, I hear you is the reply we are given when we wonder if God is really listening:
"God, do you know how much anguish this situation is causing me right now?"
"God, can't you do anything about what is going on in the world/in our neighborhood/with my family?"
Yes, I hear you.It's not meant to be a cold, thoughtless retort with a hidden subtext of "Get outta my way, you speck of dust." It's truly meant to be a compassionate response:
Yes, I hear you... and I struggle with you in your pain; I weep with you in your struggle...The second phrase, Did you do your best? is a question I once heard a Friend lift up.
The Friend offered it as a way to nurture the children among us--and to nurture one another--whether they (we) are preparing for a test in school or are auditioning for a play. There is much more significance to the question Did you do your best? than there is to the better known, somewhat empty gesture of uttering, "Well, good luck."
For one thing, the question Did you do your best? invites us to look inward and ask ourselves if in fact we did our best. The person asking the question doesn't really need to know the answer, but the person who hears the question will quickly recognize the truthful reply.
Sometimes I wonder if God simply wants us to ask ourselves, Did I do my best? Was I faithful...? If we know we didn't do our best, if we know we weren't in fact faithful, we will have the consequence of living with that knowledge... and the opportunity to do something about it when we have a chance.