Shut up and love.

The readings from the desk at church tonight included this passage from I Kings about the prophet Elijah’s experience on the mountain:

11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

Different people read that different ways, but the way I understood it was like this: People are big on referring to storms, earthquakes, fires, and other disasters as “acts of God.” But — as Elijah found out — that’s not how God expresses Himself. Rather, God is the still, small voice of Love, whispering instructions to His children to keep them safe and guide them through difficult situations.

Sometimes we look at a bad situation and think we’re overpowered. The problem is too big for us to fix. We’re too little to deal with it. But God isn’t in the problem. God — divine Love — is in the still, small voice. And it’s that voice that will guide us out of trouble, if we’ll just listen to it. It’s when we listen to human sense or rely on conventional wisdom (which is usually anything but) that we get into trouble. We jump to conclusions and react out of fear instead of getting quiet and listening for Love’s guidance.

We don’t have to wait for a major disaster to hear Love directing our steps, either.

I remember one morning when I was getting ready to go to lunch, and the thought came to me to call a friend and invite her to join me.

That idea seemed very silly. I knew my friend was terribly busy and didn’t have time to grab a burger at the drive-through, let alone sit down to a nice lunch with a friend and linger over dessert. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should call her, so I dialed her number and asked if she had time for a quick lunch at a restaurant near her office.

Even as I dialed, I was thinking, This is stupid. She doesn’t have time for this. I shouldn’t be interrupting her in the middle of the day for this. But I have learned not to ignore those thoughts that get hold of me and won’t let go. Mary Baker Eddy refers to those little bits of divine direction that nudge us through our day as “angels … pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love.”

I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when my friend accepted my invitation without hesitation and said she really needed a break.

When we got to the restaurant, we settled into a booth with our food, and my friend started telling me about the rough day she was having. She was under a lot of pressure, and some of her colleagues had treated her unkindly. She was in tears just telling me about it.

I had never seen her cry, and I desperately wanted to say something that would make her feel better. God, I prayed silently, Give me the words. Tell me what to say.

And the answer came to thought immediately: Just love her. Don’t say anything. Just shut up and love her.

So that’s what I did. I just shut up and thought about how much I love her and why I feel blessed by her friendship.

By the time we finished dessert, she was laughing, and she thanked me for calling her just when she needed me. Her whole day turned around after that.

Why? Because there was no power in the stormy relationship with her colleagues, the quarrel that left her shaking with disappointment and frustration, or the heated words someone had flung her way. Love wasn’t in any of that.

Love was in the angel-message that told me to call her. Love was in the still, small voice that spoke for me in the silence as I held her hand and let her cry over a couple of brownies. And Love was in the quiet strength that carried her through the rest of that afternoon.

Bad situations are not insurmountable. Love, on the other hand, is.

Sometimes the best solution to a bad situation is just to shut up and love.