I love it when God is clear! I don’t  always love the message I receive clearly, but I love it when “coincidences” make it evident that He is teaching me something. In the past thirty hours, God has spoken the same message to me three times, from three different sources. In each case, I was doing something that I hadn’t planned to do.

Punch 1) Yesterday, Phil & I drove to Cleveland. As we often do, we picked up a book before we left so that we could spend the travel time reading to one another and discussing what we had read. We picked up a book we had started during our Emergency Room visits and hospital stays while Phil was recovering from his heart attacks. When we returned to a more normal life, the book was laid aside, never finished.

The book is called Worthy Vessels, Clay in the Hands of the Master Potter. The author, Nell Kennedy, spent years learning about pottery from master potters. She then applies those lessons to the relationship between the Master Potter and His clay. We are finding it fascinating reading. It turned out that the last time we read, we left off at the beginning of a chapter about rest and solitude. The chapter included a long narrative about George Washington Carver. Carver spent long periods of time in solitude out in nature and it was during that time that God spoke to him and essentially used him to turn the US economy around in 1921. 

“Rest is a stabilizer that gives balance to life. It is often in the resting that the remainder of life takes on meaning.”
          Worthy Vessels, p. 52

“There is power in being still…It is in the stillness that we hear the voice or God. Through times in which we are forced to rest, God shapes us and uses us.”
          Worthy Vessels, pps. 61-62.

Punch 2) That was yesterday. Today, I went to have my hair cut and colored. Again, I picked up a book to read while waiting. It was a book I had started a long time ago but, like Worthy Vessels, it had been set aside for some time. The book is titled Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation and was written by Ruth Haley Barton. When I opened it to my bookmark, I found myself at a chapter titled “Solitude, Creating Space for God.” In writing about her first experience with extended solitude, Barton says:

“All of a sudden I was awake and alert to a level of overstimulation and exhaustion that I had come to associate with normal Christian living.”
          Sacred Rhythms, p. 30

She goes on to discuss the great toll that technology has on us. She’s not against technology, she simply recognizes that constantly being “available” via cell phones, e-mail, texting, twittering, etc., takes its toll: 

“Constant noise, interruption and drevenness to be more productive cut us off from or at least interrupt the direct experience of God and other human beings, and this is more isolating than we realize. Because we are experiencing less meaningful human and divine connection, we are emptier relationally, and we try harder and harder to fill that loneliness with even more noise and stimulation. In so doing we lose touch with the quieter and more subtle experiences of God within…Solitude is an opportunity to interrupt this cycle by turning off the noise and stimulation of our lives so that we can hear our loneliness and our longing calling us deeper into the only relationship that can satisfy our longing.”
          Sacred Rhythms, p. 36

Do you see the relationship between rest and solitude? Both books addressed both issues, and they are interwoven such that you or I cannot fully experience one without the other.

Punch 3) So feeling a little bruised this evening, I wanted to read a Psalm. I looked at the Resting at the River’s Edge schedule and saw that we are slated to return to Psalms on Wednesday, beginning with Psalm 90. Great! I thought. I’ll just read ahead a little. I came to the following verse in Psalm 90:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
          Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

 Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.
          Psalm 90:12 (NLT)

I am convinced that in the heart of God, numbering our days aright, making the most of our time, doesn’t just mean planning how we are to accomplish everything on our To Do lists and following that plan well. It doesn’t even mean planning how we are to accomplish everything we understand to be God’s plan for our lives. 

The heart of wisdom is gained not so much by doing for God as it is from being with God.

The heart of wisdom is gained through rest and solitude, when God can speak into the silence and we can hear without distraction.

Lord, I long for more of you that can only be found in solitude and rest. Lord, teach ME to number my days aright, so that I might gain a heart of wisdom.

2 Responses to “God’s 1-2-3 Punch”
  1. Sheilah says:

    I love this!! It’s so true that God has to just take away all the activity and hurriedness of our lives and make us sometimes even feel lonely and unproductive to show us where the True Source of Strength comes from!

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