When you’re dressed like a storm trooper it’s hard to bend down and pick-up a penny. You really don’t want to either with the boots because you can easily find yourself tangled up in a mess on the floor. Then there’s all the gear you have in hand – goggles, gloves, and gators. The 3G network required for skiing. If only you had the powers of Jedi you could telekinetically put the penny in your pocket but since I can only handle a single black diamond run it’s safe to say I have limited mind over matter abilities. All that said last weekend I had a really hard time keeping up. Not on the slopes but with the pennies because they were everywhere!
It’s not uncommon to find one in or around a ski lodge but every time I turned around Saturday there was a penny. By lunch I had twelve. Someone must have been walking around with a hole in their pocket. It was crazy. To a penny I can’t say no however, so I just kept making the most graceful bend I could hoping not to end up in a twisted mess. A spill on the slopes is one thing, in the lodge it equals embarrassing. If it’s to pick up a penny people really think you’re crazy which of course is why so many aren’t picked up.
By the end of the day I’d had my fill so when I got to my locker and found a very large bald man wearing a neon yellow jacket sitting in the spot I wanted to land I was grumbly. I wanted out of my trooper boots and into sheepskin, as soon as possible, but a big human bumble bee was sitting in my spot. He was so busy buzzing on and on about something on his cell phone I couldn’t get his attention. Like every large bald man I’ve ever met he had a whole heck of a lot to say so even when I tried to reach around him and get to my locker I couldn’t get his attention.
All that was left to do was climb over him to get to the other side and this wasn’t easy with the piles of gear left behind by other ski troopers. When I couldn’t make it after what was probably only five minutes, but seemed like twenty-five, Mr. Social Bee is off the phone and realizes he’s blocking my locker. “Oh I’m sorry I’m in your way,” he immediately offers. “Don’t worry about it,” I say lying. “Let me move my stuff,” he says reaching for his bag. He moves it away and what do you think I find in front of my locker? You guessed it a penny. Exasperated I drop my 3G’s and laugh.
“What’s funny?” he asks. I point to the penny and he smiles and says, “Oh that’s good luck. Yeah, I know. No – really it is,” he says adamantly. “It really is!” Fatigue hits me like a ton of bricks and I give up. If you can’t beat the penny obviously you have to roll with it. With a little room to finally maneuver around I pick up the penny and give him my two sentence history and that gets Mr. Bee buzzing again. “Wow, you’re kidding. That’s amazing. I should follow you wherever you go. Do you know how lucky that is? The odds of that are unbelievable. To find a penny a week would be rare. I’d say once a month would be the average. Man! Wow! You should go to Vegas.” On and on and on he went while I got out of my gear and packed my bag to go.
Before, I could think of some parting comment to politely acknowledge his enthusiasm and make my getaway he finally slows down and asks, “Why do you think you find so many?” The million dollar question few ever ask had arrived and since it’s really just that simple I said, “Because I’m willing to pick them up.” Without missing a beat he bellows, “COOL!” Then off he goes jumping in front of me. Now I’m left hanging, wanting to finish a conversation I’d inadvertently started with a man I initially had no interest in talking too.
With so few pauses in my journal and probably in my prayers I wondered if God took his own advice. If His wisdom is good enough for me wouldn’t He apply it to himself? Are the times He’s silent on a matter the result of knowing it would be pointless to answer?
He wasn’t mean, obnoxious, or arrogant he was just big, loud, and in my way. If I hadn’t laughed at my penny find he probably would have been long gone. But now with what I consider a real question on the table he’s happy with a trite response and off he goes. Where I typically get the skeptical questions this guy immediately sees the improbability of my experience and yet he’s appeased with the simplest of answers. I find pennies because I’m willing to pick them up. Doesn’t he see how loaded that idea is?
No and all the way home I rolled this over in my mind. Then when I got home a friend called and ironically our conversation sounded much like my previous one albeit a different subject. I thought maybe I was just feeling cynical because I was tired but then when I got online I had a queue of emails from different friends that went much the same way. Lots of blah, blah, blah and then a question. Not asked to be answered asked to keep the rhetoric going. It seemed to be the theme of the day lots of commentary with no real interest in a meaningful answer. It was like talk radio – plenty of passionate chatter but no thoughtful dialogue.
After dinner I put my feet up and reached for my prayer journal and noticed it sounded the same. I know a journal is a safe space for carrying on but I didn’t see nearly enough question marks. It had lots of venting but very few pauses. Oh no, are my prayers like this? Am I always telling God only what my thoughts on the matter are? If I do happen to throw in a question is it one I want answered or is it rhetorical? Am I like Pilate when he asked Jesus, “What is the truth?” to which Jesus offered no reply? Not even one word back because He knew it was futile to say anything. He would have been wasting His breath. Pilate’s mind was already made up like mine so often seems to be.
Where my prayers appear to earnestly seek the truth they might actually all sound the same. Lots of chatter and commentary with very little space for the bigger more poignant questions because those answers aren’t what I really want.I thought about Proverbs 26:4 where it says, “[Don’t] answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.” With so few pauses in my journal and probably in my prayers I wondered if God took his own advice. If His wisdom is good enough for me wouldn’t He apply it to himself? Are the times He’s silent on a matter the result of knowing it would be pointless to answer? Is He heeding his own counsel by not responding because to do so would reduce Him to my level? The one where I love the sound of my voice and actually have very little patience to listen for His? When God is silent could this be why?
I think so. Where my prayers appear to earnestly seek the truth they might actually all sound the same. Lots of chatter and commentary with very little space for the bigger more poignant questions because those answers aren’t what I really want. I’ve already made up my mind. I’ve got figured it out. I’ve rationalized it all away. My prayers are said to reinforce my own position. I don’t see this but God knows. He knows when it’s pointless to answer and so He doesn’t. Not for lack of caring but God will not be made a fool of by me. When responding would be futile He’s going to take His own counsel.
This epiphany stung like a bee, a big neon yellow one! My very frustration with all the blah, blah, and blah of the day was no different from what I do with God. Where at times I know it serves no good purpose to answer a question so does God. The difference is He’s far more tolerant than me. I can carry on for months and when I finally ask the right question or I’m ready to hear a real answer He will speak. Then the second part of the Proverb is likely to come true, “Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes.” A nice way of saying I’ll get put in my place which is exactly where I should be quietly sitting anyway.
I’m hoping when I get there a penny will be waiting like the one in front of my locker – a penny to remind me to bow down gracefully and listen. I’m really no different than the big bumble bee man but hopefully I’m learning that God knows to be silent with me because that’s the only thing that might stop my buzzing!