Before we moved to San Diego, when we were in the exploration phase, people used many truths about San Diego to lure us here. Among these were the following: “You really don’t need air conditioning in San Diego, the weather is nearly perfect year round,” “You don’t realize how humid it is in the South until you live in San Diego,” and “There really aren’t bugs like mosquitos in San Diego.” Needless to say, we took the bait with the help of a clear call from God to head West.
And let’s be real, all is pretty well here. That being said, I was unprepared for two natural phenomena that have shocked me here in San Diego. The skunks and the crickets. Skunks are to San Diego what squirrels are to the Southeast. They are everywhere, running about as if they own the place. I would much prefer a cute nut-hunting squirrel to a nasty striped skunk any day. Mater, our dog who has been skunked more than a handful of times, agrees whole-heartedly. They don’t write about them in the tour books. So consider yourself forewarned. You can thank me later.
Now onto the crickets. Maybe this is not a San Diego wide-phenomenon, but I can most certainly attest to the infestation of small, nasty, nearly see-through crickets in and around our home. I know they don’t bite like mosquitos, but they are loud, prolific little creatures. I have begun hiding out in my home in the evenings for fear of walking out the front door to be greeted by walls that are acting as cricket hostels. You were not invited, nasty beings. You are ruining my picturesque visions of San Diego.
Crickets don’t get much representation or marketing in life. In fact, only two things come to mind immediately when I think cricket. The first is a great childhood book called A Cricket in Times’ Square, starring a polite little cricket who is most assuredly not related to the cricket clan living in our home. The second is that awkward silence when no one is talking, when an attempt at conversation or a small group discussion goes nowhere, leaving everyone standing and staring at their toes. Crickets.
Sometimes that latter view of crickets is how I feel about God. There are so many times when I or those I love or those I don’t even know have cried out to God and asked for some miracle, some sudden stop to the evil around us, some answer to the profound suffering on this earth. And the response from Heaven often seems to be silence. Crickets.
“A silent heaven is the greatest mystery of our existence…Society, even in the great centres of modern civilisation, is all too like a slave-ship, where, with the sounds of music and laughter and reverly on the upper deck, there mingle groans of untold misery battened down below. Who can estimate the sorrow and suffering and wrong endured during a single round of the clock…?”
Robert Anderson, writing from England over 150 years ago, captures the sentiments we often feel perfectly. Dean Mansel, quoted by Anderson in his book, The Silence of God, says something similar. “There are times when the heaven that is over our heads seems to be brass, and the earth that is under us to be iron, and we feel our hearts sink within us…”
Crickets from Heaven seems to be a shared human experience. And I, as every human ought to be, am confused by this seeming indifference from a God I know and believe to be loving and gracious and just.
Anderson’s explanation of this seeming Divine Silence has been a great help to me as I seek to follow a God who often does not work when and how I think He ought to. He writes the following:
“A silent Heaven! Yes, but it is not the silence of a callous indifference or helpless weakness; it is the silence of a great sabbatic rest, the silence of a peace which is absolute and profound – a silence which is the public pledge and proof that the way is open for the guiltiest of mankind to draw near to God…If God is silent now it is because Heaven has come down to earth, the climax of Divine revelation has been reached, there is no reserve of mercy yet to be unfolded. He has spoken His last word of love and grace, and when next He breaks the silence it will be to let loose the judgements which shall yet engulf a world that has rejected Christ.”
While not a popular view point, I believe Anderson is correct. “The advent of Christ was God’s full and final revelation of Himself to man.” God’s response to suffering, to natural disasters, to loneliness and pain and evil is most clearly seen and expressed in Christ. In Christ, God said to the world, “I will not leave you alone; I won’t ask you to fix the mess you have made; I will not be content to leave the world like this, to be separated from you. I will come to earth and will do what you cannot do. I will create a way, the Way, for you to be reconciled to me. I long that all would be put back to its rightful place in proper relation to me, you and your world.”
Anderson aptly says, “Men point to the sad incidents of human life on earth, and they ask, ‘Where is the love of God?’ God points to the Cross as the unreserved manifestation of love so inconceivably infinite as to answer every challenge and silence all doubt for ever.”
God is not silent because He is cold or careless, but because His best and only answer is the offer He has given in Christ: the offer of a Suffering Savior who demands only trust in Him, as hard as that can be at times.
Crickets, yes. But crickets in light of the Cross.