Into the Silence
It is Sunday afternoon (May 6th). We are just about halfway to the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA.
Nancy is going to drop me off for a five day retreat into the silence. I enjoy silence, I find it helps me quiet myself and draw closer to Abba Father. I fear silence. When all is silent you can hear clearly. Abba’s voice is always gentle, always affirming who I am as one created in the image of God, as one of God’s beloved.
Yet I always question. What if I do not hear clearly this time? There is so much to do, so much that needs to be done, can you really afford to spend this time away?
Dashboard Christmas Tree
We are about halfway to the Jesuit Center when our dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree. I mean the kind of bright that someone could have seen from the space station. Multiple lights, warning messages flashing. The car has no power. As we pull away from a stop sign it struggles to accelerate and gain speed. This is it, I knew it was coming, GONE is our transmission!
What to do? Immediately I want to turn around. There is no way we should push on. Nancy should not be driving the car home, alone while I am at the Jesuit Center. She needs ME to get this car fixed. I am going to have to help as we pick out a new car and navigate through that whole process. This retreat is over before it began.
Nancy insists we push on. She will be okay. We can’t do any more damage to the car…the transmission is already shot. I pull into Burger King. Decision time. I turn the car off. A few minutes later we turn it back on, all the codes clear and everything is back to “normal”. Nancy insists we press on. “This time is important…you need this.”
We arrive, and I get all my things for the weeks stay. I watch as she drives away, saying a prayer she makes it home okay. A few hours later I get the text. She made it home and the car drove just fine.
Distractions & Disruptions
My experience has been that right before God is getting ready to do something amazing there are often huge disruptions. Distractions that take our eyes away from what God is doing and turn our focus on to the things of this world.
I remember a youth retreat I was preparing to lead. The buses were loaded. Forty some teenagers ready to go for a weekend away. I needed to print one last form from my office computer. We were ahead of schedule. Everyone had shown up on time, permission slips signed and with a great attitude. As I fired up my office computer I got that big blue screen of death. I watched in horror as it crashed right in front of me. There was no doubt it was fried. Gone. Gone were the seminary papers, the youth ministry records, all that I thought so valuable and irreplaceable. (No, I was not in the habit of backing things up…lesson learned…yet again).
I walked out of the office, minus the paper I needed and with my mind anywhere but focused on the youth, youth leaders, and what God was getting ready to do in our midst.
It was a giant distraction. It took some time for me to push aside that “problem” and turn my focus to where it needed to be.
Looking past the Distraction
Sitting in my room at the Jesuit Center my mind went back to that trip. A giant distraction that was intended to get in the way of what God was doing. I worked hard to push aside my worries about the car. The quiet helped me settle in and focus on why I was there. My “troubles” would be there when I arrived home on Friday, this was to be “sacred” time.
As the hours passed I began to have a sense of excitement. Maybe this time of retreat was going to be so good that it was worthy of some “distraction” as I entered the quiet. I liked the sound of that.
When those distractions or disruptions come I have learned to try and look past them. To look ahead, just around the corner to the good (great) thing God is about to do that is worthy of the evil one trying to disrupt.
I will freely confess, it is not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes those distractions loom large. Our God is bigger!
Listen to the prophet Isaiah:
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have returned from my retreat into the silence. The car is repaired. God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good.
Over the next few days I will share bits and pieces of my time away. I am always humbled by how God speaks when we take the time to quiet ourselves and listen.
Again, God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good.