Thursday, December 16, 2010
In the Window Seat
Without doing some exhaustive word study, let's just take the verse a dear friend just sent me at face value:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15
Do you see anything in that passage about having it all together? Or having a wonderful life without worries? I do not.
What I read is a reminder that we are saved and strengthened by these things:
Repentance is acknowledging to God that we have gone astray in some way - that we have (once again....) messed up and done what we did not intend to do, both in our actions and in our inclination. [This inclination aspect is what we mean when we speak of a sinful nature, but here, I am addressing the 'habitual breakdowns'.... the little foxes in the vineyard that nibble away at our best intentions....which some friends of the heart and I had been discussing and which prompted this post.]
And, repentance is also the accompanying action of turning in the other direction....doing an about face....so that we demonstrate that we do not want to do [that thing] again. (Fill in the blank with the struggle du jour: yell at your children, worry, become abusive, give in to lying, anything....that is the subject of personal turmoil).
Then, in order to actually make good on our promise and quest to live accordingly, we must rest in the promise of God that Jesus and our faith in him enables us to live empowered by the Spirit so that we are not left to our own devices....to our own best intentions....to our own strength. We rest in the promise of God and in the efficacy of the action of Jesus to secure our salvation when we trust in Him.
We are strengthened (spiritually and even physically) by preserving that space of quietness and trust in our lives. We do so by practicing ways of demonstrating our gratitude for the grace gifts of God. No one is measuring the minutes or clocking us in. This is not tit-for-tat, or some pay-back scheme, or some legalistic formula designed to measure our worthiness. The point is that we are completely unworthy of God's grace!
If we do not reserve that place in our day for time for prayer and meditation, we will not lose our salvation. God is not sitting around the corner to jerk a stick and lower the trap on us like some neighborhood bully. This is not the way our Heavenly Father's unlimited love manifests itself. But we will lose the joy of experiencing time with Him. We will have an absence of intimacy in spiritual communications that we say we desire to experience. In defaulting to Too Busy status and rendering prayer time or Bible study lowest priority, we settle for so much less than our best offered to God. I do it way too often. I know.
So there is an important place for quietness and trust: habitually practicing spiritual disciplines that are designed to enhance our receptivity to the Spirit of God in our midst.
When babies are born it is not unusual for bilirubin levels to be a bit high in the first week of life. Photo therapy uses light to treat infant jaundice while in the hospital, and ordinary sunlight if the baby is at home. I remember being told to place our firstborn in the window so that the filtered light would surround him as he slept.
Put him in the sunlight? How low-tech. It sounded so simple' I found it hard to believe they were serious but it was the treatment of choice. And it worked.
Sometimes we need to put ourselves in the place where the Son can surround us, where we are immersed in the warmth of God's love and strengthened by the Presence of God's Spirit.
We need to put ourselves in the window seat - figuratively speaking - where we can be intentional about living in the nearness of God.
A window seat - though I have never had one - is a place I can imagine comfortably settling into as one curls up with a good book, so this imagery works for me. For you, it may be stretching out in the sunshine of a beach walk or the solitude of fishing or of flying to remember what it is to soak up the rays.
It is an imperfect analogy, but one that lets us mentally put ourselves in a place to receive whatever God is dispensing and to make a priority of delighting in God's Presence. Or of learning how to approach this idea, if for the first time.
Any time we approach God's unfailing love, we remember:
Do not be afraid.
Come as you are.
God is near to the brokenhearted.
God will not dismiss one with a contrite spirit.
God does not send us away empty handed, but accepts our incomplete and jaundiced selves as we draw near to The Healer.
Go forth into this day in the strength and knowledge that our loving Heavenly Father is steadfast when all around us shifts and changes. His mercies are new every morning and are never extinguished. Great is His faithfulness!