It's nearly 6pm and Im still sitting at my desk waiting for a late afternoon meeting to get started. My head is pounding which is fairly abnormal for me. Im not a headache sort-of guy. Perhaps it was the lack of coffee, or perhaps some other inner force pulling at my mind which has been excessively busy lately with the details of life.
I pick up this post thinking back to my former reading. The description of a quiet mind is peculiar to me. The idea of a calm & undistracted moment in time where my mind and heart are not pulled away from a focus on the Lord is beautiful. While, no doubt, it has been a persistent goal to attain those moments of quietness, it sometimes seems that the harder I try to find them, the more difficult it has become to move in that direction.
In the past, my experience has been that sometimes the best opportunities for me to pray with God have been in the midst of some other arduous labor intense goal. During my early years, I spent a significant amount of my morning quiet time pulling on a 12 ft oar to propel my self and other struggling men across a dark covered lake. Im sure, like any aspects of the Christian faith, what is observed by outsiders is confusing. Often, we as Christians hamper our testimony with sin, but in other cases, the uniqueness of our own personal walk may appear like men rowing in the pre-dawn darkness, sitting backwards, bouncing from shore to shore like little water bugs...Wandering aimlessly to the view of the outsider, but with a seemingly great purpose from that which is inside, that which makes up who and what they are. My faith started and continues to flow from within my heart. Sometimes stumbling, but never without an innate purpose, driven by the power of the Holy Spirit to being sanctified during each stroke of life.
As I finished college and left rowing, I have always hoped to return to what was definitively for me- an activity beyond the sport, it was indeed a spiritual experience. Not wandering like a water bug, but like a prayerful warrior, I would slice away at the water as my mind prayed through the moments of my days. It was a cherished time with God.
Well, as I struggled and grew, persevered and preserved, God has continued to take me places in life where the dedicated pursuit of an activity has led to the quietening of my mind. My focus would shift away from the goal of the activity and my thoughts would transcend to meditating on the character of God, His redeeming love for the sinner, and the reconciliation He offered me though Jesus Christ. Part of my walk with God has been just that, a walk...I like to refer to it as “getting above tree line.” Having mentioned the need to my wife, she has graciously understood my need to bow out for a bit and get reconnected with God, to reflect upon the salvation given to me and more purposefully submit to my response and living out the effect of that gift.
My trips above tree line have taken me many places; sometimes as small as a city park, a ski lift, or even the caved summit of Rumbling Bald Mtn where I asked my wife to marry me. More recently, God has shown me even higher summits on Denali and Rainier. These “Sabbath Moments” like rowing, like many quiet times are manifested in different ways for different people. Each of us, being a unique member of the Body of Christ, have been fashioned for God’s purposes in a way that will bring about both individuality and commonality in how we experience God in our lives.
In the words of a friend’s friend-This is the beauty of Sabbath time, that it awakens us to the reality of things. I spend most of my day scrambling to get things done, skating across the surface of life like a water bug. But there are some things that can only be accomplished when the soul is at rest. In his book of poems, A Timbered Choir, Wendell Berry expresses this beautifully.
The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend;
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.
Berry is on to something here. I was so thankful that my friend shared these thoughts from this other blogger. The un-Sabbathed mind is often plagued with fears, doubts, questions, and anxieties. The mind at rest is able to release these things into God’s hands. It is content not to comprehend; it is enough to be comprehended. In my walks with God, I am tended in this truth: that God knows us, and loves us, and is carrying us along the way, even if we don’t know exactly where we’re going. I’m not sure what I will do now that the time of these opportunities is compromised by life; its goals, pursuits,....and dare I say sin? With much blessing, comes also many new challenges and I suppose I’ll have fight harder to find a Sabbath in another corner of life. Yet, I am convinced that spiritual growth requires rest, deep-down soul rest....for me, sometimes I guess, that must be rest-in motion, rest- while moving, or rest with purpose
Right now my time on the bike or hiking quietly are the most refreshing part of my days, not because they do anything magical in and of themselves, but because they put me in the position where something can be done....where my heart and mind transcend my normal inclination to self absorption moving instead towards my Lord, the redeemer of my soul...and so, recently the challenges of this pursuit have threatened my gaze and focus both for myself and my family. In mortifying the flesh and fighting the temptations of this world we have purposed to work diligently in casting off that which is not essential. We’ve tried to change what could be changed, adjust to what could be tolerated, and fought against compromising truth and law.
With great conviction, we now shift the position of our gaze to look at other opportunities in living for Him...I’m sure there will be doubters and naysayers, people wanting to splash the busy little waterbug, but our source is within, and we are driven to another shore....where with faith we look from afar to see what God has in store.....more to come.