Week Two in the Belly

There are two things getting me through this extraordinary season. And no, it’s not putting up lights and pretending it is Christmas. The first is relationships. Family. My prayer group on Sunday nights. My band of brothers on Monday nights. We Zoom in and share what we are learning—

-focus on what cannot be shaken! (Hebrews 12:25-29)

-be not victims of our circumstances but stewards of our response!

 We share our fears and concerns—and talk about our kids. What a world they have inherited!

Have you noticed how confinement, and its attendant slowing, makes you more aware of what life may be speaking? More perceptive of who you are, more observant of who, what is around you? For most of us, things have been put on hold. We’ve been forced off the highway and on to the country road, full of stops and sights (those missed when you are traveling fast). I am hearing hearts with greater precision. Especially my own. 

The second thing getting me through is Word. I have shifted back to where I should have been all along—not simply reading the Word—but listening, contemplating (in places like the mess of my study). A needed movement from “stuffing some information into the cells of our brain” as Peterson puts it, to a “dog-with-a-bone” kind of reading. Reading that “enters our souls as food enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood, and becomes holiness and love and wisdom.” 

Yesterday’s proverb–“Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone” (23:4-5) Hmmmm.

While shops are closing, prayer closets are opening. What were once “middens of failed resolve” (Peterson again) are open for business. Which is good. Really good. For what Christians do in prayer in these days may be the most significant factor in the shaping of these next few weeks. I really believe this! 

As I have shared, Jonah’s prayer in chapter two is my working material in this hard season. Jonah, fixated on his worldly pursuits, but now hurled into the sea. Confined in the whale. In the closet. In the sanctuary and silence, where he prays. I am just three verses in—letting his prayer shape my prayers. Shaping, sharpening, as I walk and pray and ponder. This is what contemplation does. Though not as dramatic, I too find myself declaring, “In my distress, I call out to you.”

Watch the news, and one feels he /she is also in the deep, hurled into the depths, into the very heart of the sea, where the news currents swirl about us. Only in the whale could Jonah be delivered. This is true for us. Only in our confinement, where we pray, does God do his necessary work. For, in due time, like Jonah, we will be given another opportunity to get it right.

 

 

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  • John, thanks again for your help in directing my concerns and emotions to what really counts. It is truly hard to not be stymied, even paralyzed by one’s focus on what is going on environmentally, politically, and economically. Later, friend.

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