Friday, February 19, 2016

For Fallow Times in the Valley

Sleep when you're sleepy.  Rest is part of working.
Aiba Masaki

For six weeks I was utterly faithful to my New Years' Resolution.  In the seventh, I could not.....just could not.  So I rested.  Fields grow better when allowed a sabbatical year.  Fallow times are necessary for human restoration, too. 

Quiet times allow us to prepare for whatever comes next.  There's a quote that I read yesterday that is attributed to Abraham Lincoln but which (as with so very many other quotes) he may or may not have said--still, it is wisdom in a nutshell:

If I had eight hours to cut down a tree,
I'd spend six sharpening my axe.

We need to be sharpened and rested to face the road ahead.  We need time for reflection.  When hard things face us, when we are troubled, we need to slow and to rest, to repair and to prepare.

Years ago in a tiny church in a tiny town, an old WW2 vet who was too emotionally traumatized and troubled to speak to anyone gathered up his courage to say one sentence to my mother whom he had noticed was deeply unhappy.  His words have fed and encouraged me more often than I can express; it was, indeed, the sermon of a lifetime:

It is when we are in the valley
that God restores our souls.
John Rayboss

The thoughts and the quotations I have found coincidentally during this quiet time begin to build a case apparently all on their own; they bloom into a garden of hope.  But I don't believe in coincidence and I do most definitely believe in the still small voice of God, and that's why I smiled this morning as I read the little book that our pastor has given to us to study during the Lenten season. 

.....there is hope because, though he does not always deliver us from suffering, he promises to deliver and transform us through it if we rely on his resources instead of our own.....
Kenneth Boa with John Allen Turner

And it was no coincidence either that when I opened my sermon notebook today, I saw the words our pastor spoke several weeks ago:

We need to use hardship to drive us closer to God.
Tom Clabaugh

My burdens don't matter much in the grand scheme of this world but they do matter to God.  The issue that I am trying to address with my Resolution is, I believe, as important to God as it is to me.  Other factors have been buffeting me--things I can't grasp, don't know what to do about, am utterly unable to handle alone, that strike my heart with fear.  Jesus also felt burdened, afraid, alone as he faced what was to come during his span on earth; he understands the human heart because he was human as well as God.  I trust that my life has a purpose beyond my small understanding.  And I thankfully draw closer to our Heavenly Father as I continue to run the race.

Be anxious for nothing
but in everything
by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6, KJV

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