Contemplate this …
Today was a full day of work. Began with hospital visits this morning as is my normal Friday routine. Every day of the week but Sundays, we visit church attendees and other friends and family that are currently in the hospital. Each full-time pastor has a day they cover hospitals – our senior pastor covers two days a week. My day is always Fridays. Hospital visitation was an anxious part of my job at the beginning of my ministry. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say or do that is appropriate rather than annoying. It is easier when you know the person but often you walk into situations where you do not know the person or the illness they are enduring. You simply walk in praying the whole time that God will shove "you" completely out of the way and bless the person you are visiting by the work of the Spirit in and through you. I try and watch my words and prayers carefully – no trite or easy answers or prayers. You try to imagine if you were the patient what would be comforting and helpful to you. Which is why I usually make my visits short and sweet. 🙂
I had several things to get done before leaving town tomorrow with the youth plus some final things for preschool promotion at church. It has been incredibly busy the past few weeks as we promote all of our babies through seniors to their new classes and have worked to get volunteers and workers in place. We still have a few more to go but it is coming along. This next week we are fully back to the fall schedule – crazy Wednesdays jam-packed with programs; high schoolers return to my house for Tuesday Bible study, etc. Here we go . . .
Returned my book to the library and guess what . . I was still in the grace period on my overdue book. So no fine for me. Yeah! Picked up two new books as you can see in the "Feel the Rhyme" typelist on the left. I picked up another Bosnian War book because I want to read another perspective. I think its important to pay attention to the fact that most authors write with a bias or unique perspective. Years of looking history textbooks taught me that. So I want to get another perspective on the situation in Yugoslavia before, during and after the Kosovo War to make sure I hear from different eyes. In either case, my eyes have been opened to a part of history that is tragic beyond description and belief. The heart of God has to break at what his creation does to one another. How could it not?
I also picked up a new devotional book. I will be working through Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation for the next month or so. Thomas Merton is a 20th century American monk that I enjoy reading. He authored several books and had much to say on the spiritual life. From my reading today, "[Contemplation] is a pure and virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word wherever He may go." (5) I can see this will be an amazing and much needed challenge for me. But it is where I am being led to go. Learning to empty myself of agendas, reasoning, self-reliance, etc. and to enter God’s presence in complete poverty of spirit so that I might be uninhibited and reckless in my following of Christ. I long to live with an awareness of God at all times in my life and to be so empty of myself that I am able to truly hear and respond to God. Contemplation is the idea behind one of my favorite verses: "Be still, and know that I am God". (Psalm 46:10) Merton writes, "Contemplation is the awareness and realization, even in some sense experience, of what each Christian obscurely believes: It is now no longer I that live but Christ lives in me." (5) The very difficult discipline of dying to self. No way to get around it, is there? Selfishness simply does not have any place in the life of a follower of God. Urggh . . . this is going to be difficult and I do believe there shall be many a day when I doth protest loudly against (oops … sorry, slipping into King Jimmy language).
Prayers tonight for each of you that read these words that you might be aware of the Great God that is very near to you and that with that awareness, you might be able to be still and know.