Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The art of contemplation

I'm in a rather contemplative mood right now. I've been this way for a few days as I process through God's plan and purpose for my life. Why do I seem obsessed with the will of God and His plan for me? The short answer to that question is, simply because life has no real meaning or purpose outside of His will. As a pastor, I deal with people on a daily basis who think that the world is caving in around them. In some cases it is actually true (figuratively speaking of course), but the reason they are unable to cope with the pressures is because they are hard pressed to believe that God actually has a plan for their lives. They believe the circumstances over the promise of God.

It's hard not to focus on the negatives when there seem to be comparatively so few positives, but ultimately faith is the capacity to trust that there is a master plan. We are a City whose builder and maker is God. We are not the architects of our own destiny yet we insist on trying to design and orchestrate the course of our lives. The sad part of all that is the fact that we generally don't do such a good job of charting our own course. Contemplation helps me slow down long enough to "Let go, and let God take over." I need that in my life every so often, especially since I am so driven to produce. I need the serenity of contemplation, the quiet solitude of listening for His voice, in order to re-orient myself on the course He charted out in the first place.

It's the end of July. Seven months seem to have flown by, and the year is more than half way through. I need some clarity and perspective over the last few months of the year, so these last few days I've been contemplative. Care to join me?


David said...

I hear you, Bro. Walking without sight and hearing in today's world is very hard, but it is most necessary if we are to survive spiritually. It takes conscious effort and determination of will to block out the noise and images of today's world and to listen to God's voice and to see his workings. Remember the lesson of Elijah outside the cave? Remember the movie Hunt for Red October, when the sonarman in the submarine Dallas was listening to the sounds in the ocean? Nobody else could hear what he could hear (i.e, his training and his purpose focused his will) and they at times made jokes at his expense. Yet, he trusted in what he knew to be true, and he guided himself and others safely.

We must purpose ourselves to make the trade-offs necessary for spiritual growth. It scares me when Scripture says that many will fall away in the end times. I look around my church and I wonder what percentage of those Christians around me will remain. Which ones? What can I do to ensure that the loss is minimal?

Sometimes I wonder if it isn't more important to make sure that we keep the converts we make, than to focus on reaching the lost. What good does reaching more people do, if we can't hold them? How good are we at walking and chewing gum at the same time?

I fear that the discipleship and growth is too shallow, because we allow it to be shallow. We think it is deep, but how deep is deep? How much rain was Noah planning for? He had no idea what to expect! Likewise, we have no idea what we're in for in the end times. We're told that it will be a great and terrible day. We think we have what it takes to endure. But I'm afraid for us. I think it is a healthy fear, and that if we don't have the fear, then we're in trouble. But we have to forego the good in order to achieve the best. We can't be satisfied with the good.

No doubt that God is in charge. No doubt that He is orchestrating things perfectly. We forget that there were two people in the New Testament who walked on water. Peter walked on water, for however briefly, but he did. When there is intense focus and trust, walking on water is possible. When we allow our focus to dissipate, we sink.

Lord, help us to maintain our focus. Help us to choose contemplation over CNN. Help us to love the best and hate the good. Help us see and hear you. Amen.