Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

Moments in a Monastery – Part 8

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VESPERS

As evening descends Vespers prepares us for the darkening of the day, celebrated in the lighting of lamps. Vespers with its last lingering rays of light is the complement to Lauds, with its celebration of the first rays of morning light. The word comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα (“hespera”) and the Latin vesper, meaning “evening.” Vespers is the sunset service, that memorizing and almost magical moment called twilight, the border time between day and dark. As the sun sets casting its colored glow, like a fire waning but still warming the pot of molten gold, we sit transfixed in time. Like the rest in a musical score it beckons us to stop, to sit and to soak. This is the stop between light and night, between going and slowing, between running and rest. It is my reminder of God’s spoken word to me, tied to a time when I was tempted to do what i wanted to. One night shortly before I left for Scotland I sat alone with my teenage son, who had just finished his junior year. We sat like typical men with hardly a word between the two, yet content in the stillness of our silent communication. It was into this silence that my son spoke 8 of the most powerful words ever pronounced: Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” You see prior to this I had been wrestling with God over what “MY” sabbatical would be. My plan was Greece and Turkey, touring the New Testament churches, but the more I tried to convince God of “MY” plan the more convicted I got that thats all it was, “MY” plan. It wasn’t bad it just wasn’t His best, it involved lots of doing but little being. I love how God is still willing to show, up even when we are selfish, and how He ruins our plans so we can prosper. My plans involved lots of sight seeing, His involved lots of Savior soaking. It was during this wrestling time, when I surrendered my ways and wants over to Him that the though of going to a Monastery first started to formulate. So by the time I came to sit with my son, the wrestling was over I had submitted my selfish sabbatical to the Savior and that’s when in the silence my son spoke “Dad have I ever told you my life verse?” “No” I answered, a little shocked that this had never surfaced before now, what kind of father was I! Psalm 46:10 he replied, do you know why, again I had know idea, obviously I train hard for the Father of the year award! Well he replied “sometimes you just need to sit with the Savior” It was like God spoke into my soul, using my son as his mouthpiece. Here were God’s gentle confirming and convicting words, to which my silent prayer was “God I get it” I think we have all been here, we get so buys planning that we miss the point. That moment when we have to stop and ask the difficult question “Where is God in the process of my plans?” For me the words of Psalm 46:10 were nothing new but they were necessary, I love the timely truths of God that steer our stubborn hearts. The bigness of His loving hands that bring us blessing, guiding and when necessary chiding us. While I was in Scotland these words like the golden gift of the setting sun surrounded me in their soft glow. Everyday I would sit and soak in their monumental message: “Be still and know that I am God” each word its own special sermon. Starting at the end we find where we must begin, God:

“Be still and know that I am God” here we come face to face with a fundamental truth, He is God not me, He is the Master not my moods, He must be the boss not my busyness, He must be the chorus of my praise not my complaining. Lord help my dreams to be your desires, help my wants to walk only in your ways, help my wishes to be based on your Word, and help my actions to conform to only your agenda.

Be still and know that I am
I Am is the name that God used when He spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).
God reveals His divine name, declaring His character and reinforcing that the issue is not who Moses is, but who is with him. So it is with me as it was with Moses, I need to encounter the great I AM in my ordinary everyday tasks and travels. Lord let me be mindful of your majesty, help me not to miss you in the morning, at midday or midnight. Lord help me to be aware an in awe of your constant compassionate care. Let me not forget your forgiveness or take your goodness and grace for granted, and make me ever mindful of your mercy. Let me not miss you in any of my moments, get me out of the way so I can experience more of you. Help me to walk in wonder instead of whining about your ways, as I journey with the I am of John:
I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
I am the Door (John 10:9)
I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
I am the Vine (John 15:1,5)

Be still and know
More that knowledge I want to know, to see, to touch, to taste and to know that The Lord is good. I don’t just want to read about knowing I want knowing to be real. I want knowing you to be what people see when they know me. I want the words of the song “I want to know you more” to become the very lyrics of my life:
I WANT TO KNOW YOU MORE
In the secret, in the quiet place
In the stillness you are there
In the secret, in the quiet hour
I wait only for you
Cause I want to know you more

I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more

I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more

I am reaching for the highest goal
That I might receive the prize
Pressing onward, pushing every hindrance aside
Out of my way
Cause I want to know you more

I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more

Be Still
More than just to slow I need to stop, to still my soul before the Savior. To take time to smell the richness of His roses with their aromatic aroma. For only when I stop do I appreciate the small, seemingly insignificant things. For when I speed ahead, forgetting to stop and still my soul before the Savior, I loose sight of what is significant. In the constant comings and going his blessings become a blur and I loose focus of the forgiving face of my the Father. I need to stop so I can let my bucket down into the well of His Word and drink deeply. To rest not in the racing of our frantic activity, but in the well of His forgiveness, where our failures can be washed afresh. Stopping long enough to see His long relentless loving pursuit. To spend time in the treasure of His truth.

Be
Be, this is the position I am called to occupy, that place of stillness before the Savior. Be is a verb denoting action, yet the action here is to be still. We are called to active stillness, a paradox of practice for our times. Sometimes the hardest activity is no activity, for this is not a call to accomplish a list for The Lord but to practice the persistent pursuit of His presence. This is knowing through relational resting, so when was the last time you sat with the Savior? “Be still and know that I am God” God’s gracious gift to me. To my son Chris, thank you for being the mouth piece of God, my prayer is that you will continue to let His Spirit speak in and through your life, so that you can always be a trumpet of truth in this troubled world. I love you son.

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