TRUSTING THE PAUSE
They say that you teach (or write, in my case) what you need to know yourself. That would be true for me, especially this week. I’m fairly certain that I reread 2 specific devotionals, days 16 & 17, at least 5x. I just couldn’t get enough. I wanted it to stick, to be branded in my brain. Or as one Bible teacher says, “Wallpaper my mind, Lord.”
The backdrop for this spiritual yearning is, once again, all of the events surrounding my medical experience the past 4 months. It feels like I’ve been living 2 lives, in my brain. The great divide—cancer, & then, everything else considered “normal.” The file drawers are open in my head. I’m constantly alphabetizing, organizing, & filing away information, to achieve some semblance of peace & rest. I’m not naturally a mental multitasker. So some compensation is in order. For me that’s lists, lists, & more lists. That’s the way I clear my head & back up accurate records. On more than one occasion, my medical notebook has turned out to be a life-saver. I’ve done my share of sighing, phone time, expressing frustration, & feeling emotionally like a bowl of jello. Where would I be without my monthly calendar? In my head, I’m alone, with Jesus – counting on Him to pull it all together. Thank God He knows me! Mental drivenness can be paralyzing. Is anyone identifying with me here??
Most of the time, things that are the most spiritually & emotionally encouraging aren’t altogether new. It’s just that your soul is primed & God’s timing is perfect. You already know that what you’re doing isn’t working. And you’re tired. So-o tired! The irony is, you seldom recognize your need until His arrows hit the bulls-eye of your heart. So this week, I was reading some excerpts from writings by the dead guys, as my Honey affectionately calls these Saints, who’ve gone on to sit at Jesus’ feet.
It started with these remarks on “Abba Father” from Romans 8:15. “The wonder is not that God hears our prayer, but that He is our Father. The greater includes the less…the relationship carries with it accessibility, intimacy, & fearless love…others may cringe in fear, but the child-heart is a stranger to terror.” (Samuel Chadwick 1840-1932) * Prayer is a love relationship. Do I really believe this?*
“Rejoice in the Lord always…Be anxious for nothing but in everything…let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:4 &6) “ Such is the Lord that He is indeed able to be a perpetual cause of joy…the normal Christian life is given here as a life free from care—from the miserable anxiety which blights & withers…the normal Christian life is a life of perpetual, habitual, converse with God about everything…the practice of reverent, worshiping, thankful, detailed prayer…the great means to divine, unanxious peace…in the sense of making our requests known in everything. WILL WE ACT UPON IT?...Thought is good, but prayer is better; or rather, thought in the form of prayer is, in ten thousand cases, the best thought…God helping in everything calls for pause, for consideration, for judgment, to pray first & then think.”(H.C.G.Moule 1841-1920) * Prayer IS my best thought. The pause is the preface for God’s help, in everything.*
Steve shared with me that years ago when he was trained in public speaking, he was told to “trust the pause.” For the most part, we generally don’t like silence & often feel uncomfortable with it. So we ramble in conversations, both with people…and with our heavenly Father. Listening can be uncomfortable. So prayer becomes a one-way dumping session. Check-the-box & I’m-done. Prayer becomes something you do, instead of an intimacy experienced. I don’t know about you, but I want MORE of that intimacy. I am so thankful for the quiet times in my soul, the pause in the busyness. It’s permissible, & actually preferred. “We need to become conscious of our ignorance as to what God’s way may be…we need to wait quietly before God…until restful assurance fills us. It will be given…so simple & delightful can it become for a soul that has practiced waiting on God to walk all day in the enjoyment of God’s light & leading.” (Andrew Murray 1828-1917)
I’ve always been one of those people who prays about little, but important (to me), things. Like a parking space or grocery bargains, specific clothing needs, what to buy for birthday gifts, how to disperse giving money, or specific provision when we are short financially. Those are some of my in everything(s). But I’m seeing my great need for the pause in my soul, in daily life. Honestly, it can happen anywhere. God works when others don’t see what’s going on inside of me. I want a greater awareness of that moment-by-moment accessibility of God’s presence. I KNOW I possess the life of Christ by His indwelling Spirit. But it’s my choice to pause, in my soul, before Him.
A few days ago, God gave me a good kick-in-the-pants reminder about pausing to pray first, then to think. I’d just gotten notified that my online supplement order hadn’t gone through. They needed me to resubmit it. The problem was, I’d thrown away my coupon that kept the order within our available budget. And that coupon number wasn’t on my printed receipt. You know, those weird letter/number combos that have no apparent rhyme or reason. So I typed in the reorder & proceeded to go through the trash…not once, or twice…but 3 times! No success. I found virtually everything else, that I didn’t need…except that 1”x3” piece of paper. In my frustration, I sat staring at the trash can & prayed, “Really, Lord? Will you PL-E-A-S-E show me where it is?” I think I might have even sounded a little whiney. Well, He didn’t show me the paper. He did something better. He brought that once-seen letter/number combination to my mind. No, I’m not kidding! PRC7Z1. I’ve got more important things on my mind. I’m getting older. This was no lucky guess or coincidence. This was my faithful Father, reminding me that the pause precedes my self-effort frenzy. Look for these moments in your life. They are likely happening more than you realize. Don’t give God’s glory to another “coincidence.” I’m grateful that He’s acutely interested in all of my everythings! He used that silly coupon to remind me that He is working in ways I can’t see & in the lives of people I love, without question. Pausing ultimately leads to a deeper love exchange, & therefore a deeper trust, as you wait & listen. This morning as I again sat in the pre-dawn dark, I prayed, “ Lord, I want to be a pause-er. Make me a pause-er.”