In absolute silence I’m sitting here in a near-luxurious time share room in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. Puffy clouds skitter across blue skies and mountain peaks surround. For nearly three days I have no appointments, no meetings, no tasks crying out to be accomplished. Should I dare to peek at coming commitments (24 Advent meditations to write, two major meetings to prepare for, lessons to research, a calendar full of ‘regular’ stuff…), my mental, emotional and spiritual solitude would be disturbed. In fact, even as I sat quietly with my coffee this morning, those responsibilities were like squirrels on my shoulder, tails wagging with impatience, claws seeking a foothold. But–with coffee-fueled, Holy Spirit-inspired determination–I chased them on to the balcony where they still sit peeking through the window. For these days I want to think deep. Speak to God with utter frankness. Read slowly. Ponder God’s word and the words of wise writers. Chase away the squirrels.
First I opened my phone app to Jesus Calling. Before I could even read one word of today’s devotional, the words “Jesus calling” seemed printed in bold. I pictured him calling me this morning. “Come with me, child, during these hours, see me at your side. Feel my arm around your shoulders. These are days for you to hear me speaking just to you.”
After sitting with those thoughts until my coffee was cold, I turned to Psalm 84 and was again stopped after the first few words: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty!” Jesus said “abide in me as I abide in you” so one of the Lord Almighty’s dwelling places is in me, in these days, in these moments. The psalmist goes on to say that his soul–the deepest part of his being–“yearns “for the courts of the Lord.” I have those random moments of yearning for more of Christ’s presence, but oh, that it would be a constant hunger and thirst for ever more of him. And did Jesus himself speak these familiar Hebrew words as he walked on dusty roads and prayed on hillsides: “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for her young….my soul yearns, even faints (to return to) the courts of The Lord”? While fully committed to his Father’s plan (his plan), was he ever lonely while surrounded with slow-learning disciples, people more hungry for miracles than for him?
From Jesus Calling and the psalms, I turned to poets of the 17th and 18th centuries. I laughed aloud when I read this line: Call home thy thoughts that rove abroad”! Even Isaac Watts had squirrels! And then, “How good it is, when weaned from all beside, with God alone the soul is satisfied,”* and finally..Allured into the desert, With God alone, apart, There spirit meeteth spirit, There speaketh heart to heart. Far, far on that untrodden shore, God’s secret place I find; Alone I pass the golden door, The dearest left behind. There God and I–none other; Oh far from (all) to be!… Still, Lord, alone with Thee.*
And so I walk and sit and listen in these days…still and alone with him.
*Gerhard Tersteegen, 1697-1769; The Christian Voice of Mystical Verse, compiled by A.W. Tozer.