Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Pastor's Perspective - The Field of Solitude
Last Sunday I shared a message titled ‘Four Fields’. You can give it a listen at 1stchristianchurch.org, then Media, then Podcasts. I told our rain-soaked faithful that in preparation for the palace, God slowly and intentionally developed David’s heart in the fields of solitude, obscurity, monotony and humility. Late last month, I was reminded of the importance of time spent with our heavenly Father in the field of solitude. Let me tell you about it.
One year ago this month, the Lord put it on my heart to do something I’ve always wanted to do – write a book. He not only gave me the biblical text to write from, but through my amazing congregation’s loving generosity, a laptop to write it on! Since then I have taken two excursions alone to some dear friends’ cabin home in the Sierra foothills. Last month was one of those getaways. My plan was to string together a few days of marathon writing. However, my first morning there, God reminded me that His plans are far greater in purpose, and trump mine every single time.
My first morning waking up was a glorious one. The temperature outside had dipped dramatically, and the sound of a chattering squirrel outside my bedroom window was a welcomed alarm from my typical one back in Fairfield. My game plan was a simple one – eat a quick bowl of cereal, drink a couple of cups of black coffee, grab a quick chapter out of the Old Testament, and commence to pecking. As I ate and read about the prophet Samuel’s unwavering dedication to the Lord, I sensed God’s unmistakable presence move in around me. I moved my bowl aside, and lowered my head to the dining room table, bracing myself in fear and reverence. Over the course of the next few minutes I began to share my heart with the Father in a trickle of confession, repentance and soul-yearning. Before I knew it, the trickle was a fast-running stream, and within minutes Niagara. If anyone would have come in during that time they would have thought ‘He’s coming apart!’ yet, in reality, God was putting me back together.
After what seemed like an eternity, I looked up at the three empty chairs around the table in which I was sitting. In an unanticipated moment and revelation, I began to envision the chairs being filled, each with a divine member of the holy Triune. I leaned across the table at the chair at the head of the table opposite myself and began speaking openly to God the Father specifically. I acknowledged His greatness, His creativity, His power, His love and grace in overwhelming adoration. Thankfulness rose up high and loud. My worship then turned into confession and transparency, with sobs of sorrow, pleadings of restoration and grace. I then looked at the chair to my left, God the Father’s right, and began verbalizing my love and appreciation for His cross, and my regret for making my life and ministry at times about anything other than His life-giving death and resurrection; then allowing the joy of His salvation to wash over me. After a long period of time, I turned to the chair on my right. I thanked Him for His leading, His invaluable place in the Trinity, and acknowledged how desperately I needed Him, all while asking Him to forgive me for the many times I had grieved His holy character. Many more things happened at that table, frankly too holy to describe.
A few times I tried to lift myself from the table, but to no avail. After each tear was cried, every sin confessed, every desire verbalized, and my heart was fully yielded, over three hours had flown by. At that point I didn’t want to leave that place, that table, that seat. And then it all hit me. Friends, it was so obvious that I gave voice to it – “Father? This isn’t about a book is it? You just wanted time with me.” At that beautiful truth Niagara rushed again, at the reality that the Universe Creator mysteriously and scandalously, wanted to spend time alone - just with me. (I’m choking-up even now as I remember it.)
Friends, I know that a whole lot changed in me since that morning in the mountains. I don’t know everything that was done in me. All I do know is, I can’t get close enough to Him, through His Word and time in prayer. And, I’ve never been so excited about ministry! Even a few others have noticed that there is something new and renewed in me. I am certain that I would have never had that priceless exchange with my Father in the day-to-day routine of home and office. It required intentionally getting away and at least allowing Him the opportunity to speak and move.
David spent a lot of time alone with God. When nobody else seemed to really care or notice, his heart was being touched and deepened for the rich things of the Almighty. Only after serving faithfully in the field of solitude could he truly be ready for the palace.
Have you spent time alone with God lately?