One day a number of years ago, I fell asleep during my prayer. As I was sleeping, I heard a voice. I knew this was a dream voice. It spoke only two words:
I immediately woke up.
“Enoch choices?” I repeated. “What on earth does that mean?”
So, remembering that Enoch was mentioned in the Bible, I decided to look him up, and what I found was not one, but two Enochs. The first was the son of Cain (that child of Adam and Eve who committed the first murder), and the second was the descendant of Seth (the son born after Abel was killed).
Concerning the first Enoch Genesis says that his father “built a city, and named it Enoch after his son Enoch” (4:17).
So Enoch had a city named after him, a sure way, you would think, to have your name remembered. The possibilities boggle the mind. There could be an Enoch City Hall, Enoch Theater, Enoch Public Library, Enoch Post Office, and on and on.
However, there is a second Enoch who appears briefly in the next chapter of Genesis. This Enoch figures in the genealogy beginning with Adam and ending with the sons of Noah. He was the father of Methuselah, known for longevity. But what is most remarkable about this Enoch is stated in one verse:
“Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him” (5:24).
What happened to Enoch? The verse is very mysterious. Unlike the first Enoch, whose name would today have been emblazoned in neon throughout his city, this Enoch seems to have disappeared. It is about this Enoch that the book of Hebrews says, “By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’” (11:5).
The first Enoch had a city named after him. The second disappeared into God. Here were the choices. Was I going to build a city for myself, construct a monument to my own name, focus on my own glory? Or was I going to walk with God and fade from view, so that the glory and the name were God’s not mine? As John the Baptist said when his disciples complained that people now were turning to Jesus instead of to John: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
The 20th century mystic Raïssa Maritain wrote, “…we have, under the action of grace and through the travail of the soul, to leave our bounded heart for the boundless heart of God. This is truly dying to ourselves” (Raïssa’s Journal). Isn’t this what the second Enoch did, when he walked with God and was found no more?
From time to time over the years, those two words, “Enoch choices,” come back to me, to remind me, to challenge me, and sometimes to convict me.
So don’t think you can avoid anything by falling asleep during your prayer.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
“Boundless Heart” image created from NASA’s Galaxy Cluster 1E 0657-556, courtesy of NASA and STScI