Friday, August 8, 2008

Shhhh, I'm listening for the Whisperer (Unpacking the passage Part 3)

I was thinking this morning of the lyrics of Patsy Cline's song, "Stop the world and let me off. I'm tired of spinning round and round." Of course she was lamenting the game of love and that isn't the case where I am concerned. What I understand though is that Patsy felt like she was on a merry-go-round spinning in vicious circles, faster and faster, never slower. Sometimes, I just want to get off that merry-go-round and watch the world spin at warp speed while I collect my thoughts and regain my equilibrium. In the last few weeks while the tyranny of the world's urgencies pounds relentlessly on the door of my life, I've felt like a butler run over a thousand times. I answer the door and boom I'm knocked out before I ever knew what was coming. And two seconds later, the door is pulsing again with someone or something else's knock. Now, don't misunderstand me at all, please. I firmly believe that our lives are only filled with the urgencies we allow. God does not call us to take on more than we can handle (and by handle, I don't mean maximum number of balls we can frantically juggle and generally when we need a vacation from our day to day living, I believe the truth is that we are probably taking on more than what God desires. (Controversial words for a world full of Marthas, I know) In addition, I'm not bellyaching over a busy schedule, or singing the Woe Is Me song because we're busy building a house and schooling our children and entertaining guests and being involved in our church and on and on. Quite the opposite is true; our lives are filled with the blessings of God and I am grateful. My day to day minutes however have been filled with a combination of God ordained things and people and a few that He didn't schedule--oops. As a result, I've been left wanting to raise my index finger to my lips and quietly say, "shhhhhhh" to the rest of the world and all it's urgencies. "Shhhhhhh, I'm trying to hear the whispers of my heavenly Father." We all have seasons that are extremely full from time to time--weddings, funerals, getting children off to college, moving. But, they should be seasons that come and then pass. Without question we are in a chosen season of busyness and as a family we've taken steps to protect valuable family time one day each week where we just enjoy one another completely. But as a child of God, what have I done to make sure that I remain connected to God? A few days ago I said to my husband, "It's just so important to me that at the end of this season in our lives the things that remain are our marriage and our relationship with our children." To that list, I obviously need to add "and my love relationship with God." To love someone, to know them, to remain connected, time must be spent. When Jeff and I were engaged we lived hundreds of miles apart for six months, but we had "phone dates" and we wrote letters everyday. We logged a great deal of quality time getting to know one another and nurturing our relationship during those months. It was not traditional, but I'd never trade those letters for all the "dinner and a movie dates" in the world. Deuteronomy 30:6 (the passage just before the one we've been unpacking) says, "The Lord your God will also cleanse your heart and the hearts of your descendants so that you may love him with all your mind and being and so that you may live." In order to choose life, something needs to first happen in our hearts. What a beautiful picture of God--clothe in hand--gently washing away the things that clutter and dirty our hearts so that we are free to love Him. How poignant that our Father will come in and clean up our hearts just so we can love Him. Indeed "we love Him because He first loved us...." To love God with all our mind and being we must quiet the masses in our lives--schedules, finances, people, commitments, yes, even ministry--and sit still while He cleanses our hearts so that we are free to really live. The abundant life He wants for us--gave His life to offer us is not about a "God is good, but I'm barely hanging on and I can't really remember the last time we truly connected in a powerful and meaningful way" kind of life. In Psalm 51 David wrote, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me, the joy of my salvation..." He was writing in reference to the sin of adultery that he committed, but adultery comes in many forms and busyness could possibly be chief. It has been said so many times that the greatest tool of Satan in this century is distraction. I can't tell you how many times I've heard my kids say to me, "Mom, are you listening to me?" Sometimes we have to turn the volume down in our lives so that we can hear the voice of The Source of Life. I wonder how often God is saying to me, "Sarah, are you listening to me?" This is in no way meant to condemn. The truth is that when I read the first verses of Deuteronomy 30 what struck me most is the heart of a God as a Father. There have been moments this summer when my kids have been busy with sleepovers and visiting aunties and cousins and my heart has literally ached to be snuggled up on the couch reading a story with each of my precious boys under the crook of my arms. And there have been moments when I've sensed like the wind being knocked out of me a distance between their hearts and mine as they run the race of their lives and I run my own race. And I am desperate to recapture their hearts and walk through their young lives together, hand in hand. Surely there is nothing harder for a parent than to love their child so desperately and have their own flesh and blood not return that love. This is the heart of our Father who is desperate to "reverse your captivity and have pity on" us; a Father who wants to "turn and gather {us} from all the peoples among whom He has scattered" us. (Deut. 30:3) The only thing He needs from us is that we "turn to him with our whole mind and being." (Deut. 30:10) He will do the cleansing of our hearts and minds, He will restore. He will revive. He will refresh. We only need to turn our eyes, shift our gaze toward the lover of our souls. I hear Him now--calling me to quietness, calling me to simplify, to reduce. "Come to me, Sarah--let go of all that is clouding your vision and screaming so loudly in your ears....I'm not concerned with what you do for me, I'm concerned with the condition of your heart. Do you love me with your heart and your mind and your soul? Do you?" Yes, Lord, I do. Create in me a clean heart God as you did for David. Let me not love another person or thing more than I do You. Let me not put anything else before you, the source of life. Lord I want to live in the freedom and joy you intended for me daily--help me clear out anything that is hindering that relationship. Yes, Lord, I love you and today, I choose You--The Life. Amen.

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