Friday, December 23, 2016

Blessed Quietness

December 23, 2016

Some things just take time; they can't be rushed. Which is one of the reasons why we miss so many of God's best gifts. My impatience is why I haven't hunted in years. I used to, but I would get out into the woods, sit for awhile, looking and waiting (with my ears, listening wasn't much of an option), until about an hour into the morning when I hadn't even seen anything larger than a chickadee, I would begin to talk to myself. "I've got things to do! I'm wasting my time!" I would get so agitated that it ceased to be fun. I'd be done before noon. Occasionally a hunter will bag a deer first thing on opening day, but usually success is the result of pre-season planning and plenty of in-season patience.

The same is true of any discipline. A great musician doesn't get to be great overnight; it takes year after year of hour after hour practice. Whether it is acting, preaching, teaching, medicine, engineering, plumbing, or carpentry, success is the result of patient, steady effort.

Prayer and meditation is no different. Elijah was a stormy, volcanic personality, but when he had finished his showdown with 450 false prophets, he was so spent that he needed some R & R. It took time before he was able to quiet down enough to listen for the still, small voice of the LORD.

Today was a quiet day. After attending our local writer's group at the library, I came home to study for next week's prison sermon. Sermon preparation is not merely an academic exercise; it requires listening to Scripture and letting it seep into the soul like a gentle rain. The problem is, it not only takes time, it takes time to quiet the soul enough to actually listen, and we tend to fill our time with sound, images, and active work. I was at it most of the day, but my spirit is still restless. Tomorrow night we will sing, "All is calm; all is bright." Maybe by then, the calm part will have settled in. My gratitude tonight is anticipatory; I'm not quite to the quiet stage, but have most of the day tomorrow to work on it. It will come if I refuse the distractions, and for that, I am thankful tonight.

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