I awake wondering if this feeling will ever go away. That gnawing feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I do my mental gymnastics, run through each area of responsibility, and strain my brain as I try to recall what it could be.
With it comes a soft, rumbling panic that occupies the space right under my sternum, not quite in my chest, but almost. And I feel like a mother pulled in two directions, trying to listen to an important conversation while keeping an eye on the children to ensure the expensive lamp on the end table doesn’t topple.
All this effort produces nothing. I cannot pinpoint the reason for my angst. Yet there it is, and the panic gets a little louder. I feel it inch its way to my heart.
I do the only thing I can. I get busy. I take out a notepad and construct a list. It holds all the things I decide to accomplish today, a list that should be spread out over a week, not a day. But I know from experience that an overstuffed schedule will leave no room for wondering what it is I forgot, no room for panic, not one inch available for it to migrate. My busyness contains it for now.
Then somewhere in list writing and project planning, I realize I’m not managing my unsettledness. Instead, I’m running, maybe running from what I have forgotten, I don’t know. Although, I don’t want to slow down because it may unleash emotions I wish to ignore, I choose to open to the chapter and verse that keeps coming to mind.
I consider these words: Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7
I sink some, my shoulders lower and my head shifts down. I quietly ask myself if this is what I’m doing, running from his presence, running from him. The question itself is an acknowledgement that I am, an accepting of my inner condition. And I realize that this gnawing feeling is an ignored calling, a calling to go deep, to surrender, to become holy. It’s not something I have forgotten to do that won't leave me, but a question I’ve put off answering.
I look at my tidy to-do list. How I just want to jump into the doing and free myself from the reflecting, the yielding and the growing. How I want to run!
The panic that grips me is settled with these words:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
I make a cup of tea, find a cozy spot, and begin to read the chapter again, out loud. They are David’s words, but I speak them as if they are mine.
I realize my running is futile. I cannot escape this love that pursues me. My delayed answer to its call will not make it go away. This love is relentless and I cannot hide from or out run it.
I am overwhelmed by the realization that I was made, every inch of me crafted, to be loved, lavishly adord. I can hardly believe it, much less accept it, and again I yearn to run, bolt right from this cozy spot and numb myself with busyness.
Instead, I choose to release my panic and receive peace. I pray David’s prayer, speak the words and make them mine.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
I don’t know what fruit this prayer will produce. I don’t know how it will change me, but suddenly my busyness list doesn’t feel so urgent. I slowly sip my tea, revise my list into a handful of tasks, and move into the day feeling loved and knowing that I haven’t forgotten a thing.