Last year, before Tim left, the church graciously gave me an extra three weeks off. I was rereading my journal for that time and found my thoughts that I wanted to adopt a simple goal, which I heard first from Mennonite leader, John Drescher, who wrote the book Spirit Fruit. Anyway, the goal has three simple elements to it.
Each day, I purpose to
Speak with God before I speak to anyone else
Read God's Word before I read anything else
Listen for God's voice before I listen to anything else.
Well it was a good goal, but not realized at the time. When I came across this in last year's journal, however, I realized that it was now happening. Since the first day of this sabbatical I have awoken early without an alarm and have been able to have significant uninterrupted time with God, reading, praying listening and worshipping.
I know it will be easier to maintain this while on sabbatical, than it was or will be when I am back to work. While carrying the responsibilities of pastoral work, I often have evening engagements and then when I get home, need to unwind a bit and before I know it, it is 11 pm. Too many days that means I'm not up til 6:00 and then it is often off to a breakfast meeting or to the office by 8:00 and my time with God gets really crowded. And there is always the temptation to check my email or watch the morning news, before I have spoken with God, read his Word or listened for his voice.
I have been rereading Henri Nouwen's The Way of the Heart while meandering the back roads of upper New York state. Drawing from the Desert Fathers of the third and fourth centuries, Nouwen writes about the need for us to experience solitude, silence and prayer, especially those of us in ministry. The book calls me again to be intentional about building these things into my life.
God, I desire you more than anything or anyone else. I confess that I have now given you the time you deserve, often under the excuse of the pressure of your work. How absurd is that! Forgive me. Thank you for doing this new thing in my life, being my early morning alarm clock, and calling me to this place of waiting on you. Amen
A few weeks ago I came across this song by Misty Edwards. Misty leads worship, along with others, at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I have a bunch of her music, but was not familiar with this one. The song is called "Awaken Me" and the video is from the prayer room where IHOP maintains worship 24/7. This song captures the cry of my heart right now. (If the video does no appear below, visit the blog directly).