na'aseh v'nishma

There's a concept called na'aseh v'nishma; which means: "we will do and we will hear" or "we will do and we will understand."* It's about doing your faith, and coming to understand what it is you already believe as you practice it. Lauren Winner explains it a lot better than that, but that's the gist of it, I think.

As I was mulling over the concept in the sleepless wee hours of the morning, it brought to mind a verse from Psalm 3: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." (v. 5) There's a pattern to life, even when we feel totally out of control. The nights might be shorter, but we do lie down and sleep eventually, and we do wake up - so already there's a structure, a consistency we rely on and live by without always realizing it's there... and so too with our faith sometimes. "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth"... etc. and I do, though I am not thinking of it every minute. There is a pattern and structure to how I live - to why I live - to what I do with this life God has given me, and I don't always think of it, and I don't always understand it, but I live according to it, much as I live according the sleep cycles written into the fabric of my existence, and in some ways, much as I breathe.

Breathing. Now there's a life-giving rhythm. It happens automatically; we don't think about it at all, most of the time. But when we start to pay attention - when we consciously time it, slowing down, breathing deeper, thinking about it more - we suddenly find ourselves calming, even when we hadn't realized how frenetic a pace we'd been keeping. And I think na'aseh v'nishma is similar to that on a faith level - we do the things we know to do and we keep on doing them, and as we begin to pay attention to them, suddenly things begin to make sense - either again, or for the first time, or in a new way. At least, I hope so. There's a lot that feels like it just doesn't make sense right now, and I am living on two planes at once: a plane on which I know that God is in control and has a plan better than mine (a plane on which God is meeting me daily through people all over everywhere speaking very similar things into my life, and it's all good stuff, laden with hope) - and a plane on which I am weary and worried and anxious because I do not understand the things that He is saying - not the way I want to, not with the details I think I should know... But there isn't a question which of those two planes I should jump to and stay on...

His way, all the way, of course. Of course. So na'aseh v'nishma - I will do what I know to do and hope - no, trust - that it is all going to work out, somehow. Because it will. And it will be greater than I dreamed.

*according to Lauren Winner in Mudhouse Sabbath, p. x; this Hebrew phrase is found in Exodus 24

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Happy. Welcome to the rollercoaster ride! Each new season brings a new thrill ride that calls us to hang on and trust, even if it doesn't look like it's a sane idea to! I am in the process of changing jobs to go manage a run down boutique gallery & gift shop birthed out of a church near the outskirts of my city which my church has recently become responsible for. It is pretty bad at the moment, but we have faith to turn it around. It's currently called 'Selah' which is nice to those who know alot about the Psalms, but kinda pointless to anyone else. I am changing the name to 'Breathe - gifts, art, coffee.' for the same reason you so beautifully put in this post. You go stand on that cliff my friend and survey the promised land because you're right on it's borders. Keep going, and you're right, it WILL be beyond amazing.