A Break From My Morning Coffee

Dear Reader,

First, an apology for my absence over the last week or so. I’ve been on a forced hiatus (IOW, hospitalized. Again. I’ll post about my many stays at Central Massachusetts’ wonderful medical facilities soon. For now, lets just say my points earned me a room with a gorgeous view of Lake Quinsigamond.)

I’m writing about the lessons in this recent turn of events. As you know, The Lord is always teaching through circumstances, building perseverance, patience, endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-4). It is active perseverance, patience, and endurance that I’m focused on today, and these are embodied in two very spiritual things: routine and rest.

On Routine.
I think we all have our routines. We almost make them sacred rituals, never to be broken. My most precious one revolves around my morning time with God, reading the Word and devotionals, praying, and journaling before moving on to plan the day. But there is something that He has shown me about this… habit.

Almost without fail, when I wake up (no matter the time), I will go out to the kitchen (to not disturb my wife), get the coffee going, tidy up the table, if necessary, then get a cup of Joe and sit down. Here, in the hospital, this custom is broken. I have to wait upon the kitchen staff to reach my floor, which is sometimes not until they deliver breakfast. This can be hours. And I would wait. As if I could not proceed to my quiet time without the coffee. I see that coffee had become equally important with the connection I make with my Maker.

What is truth is that there will always be interruptions in life. Sometimes, it’s illness. Sometimes, it’s being out of sorts because I’m out of my comfort zone or familiar/favorite setting. And sometimes, it’s simply lacking desire – I “don’t feel like it”. The test is in whether or not my day-to-day situation dictates whether or not I inwardly seek to be with Him.

What I need to make unbreakable is not the standard coffee plus being still and knowing, but the purpose of the time itself. No matter where. No matter when. No matter what. Even in busiest, most bustling places – places like the well-lit, noisy floor of a hospital (with a roommate of similar description) – I can be still, center myself on my Creator, tune out the background, and experience peace and quiet to read, meditate, pray, and discern. Granted, this is much easier at my kitchen table in the early morning, but it is possible.

On Rest.
Men of Integrity
‘s book this week is about the Sabbath. About rest. A. J. Swoboda writes in The Dusty Ones,

“The first thing in the Bible that God makes holy is a day, the Sabbath day… God invented rest that we might live and enjoy living… Sabbath is a dimension of holy living that we are invited to enter into… one can only ‘enter [God’s] rest’… rest is a place that is made, created for us, [not one] that we create for ourselves.

“Sabbath, for a Christian, is a way of life. All of life is one big period of rest – not rest from the day job or rest from responsibilities, but rest from striving, from saving ourselves.”

Hebrews 4:10-11

For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every attempt to enter that rest.

I almost entitled this post “Enter rest Interest”. “Rest” is not literal. It is a virtual place God invites me to as often as needed, removing myself – even momentarily – mentally and spiritually from my locale, from the constant thoughts swirling through my head, from the distractions of this world. Intentionally. This gives me pause, to consider if I am feeling like the prodigal or the elder son, or acting like the father.

Because, as E. K. Marshall writes in Mornings With Jesus about a pastor’s insight on those thoughts,

All my thoughts? …even the judgemental ones about (ME: hospital roommates)?”

“…We shouldn’t be shocked or defeated by every thought passing through our head. Many of those are temptations; all are evidence of our need for the Savior. But what we do with them matters… Every word that crosses my mind may not be pleasing to the Lord, but I have the choice to feed it and let it reign, or commit my character to Jesus.”

I see how the persevering, patient, enduring practice of remembering what the routine is for, and stepping out in rest anywhere, anytime, is what leads to the character others will see in me. And this has helped me today in how I interact with (and judge) my new (and old) friend(s) Joe.

Time for another sip.

 

A Prayer of Readiness

Heavenly Father, Perfect Creator, You determined and set in motion Nature’s laws, but You transcend them. You define science; science can not define You. We very finite beings either deny this Truth, or we grow to gratefully accept You and whatever You give us, and we come to praise You in all Your Being. In learning this lesson, we become able to put aside the greatest of fears – that of the unknown, of thoughts of the worst that could happen in anything we attempt, and we simply begin to trust You. We trust that You are in charge of all outcomes, even that final one, which, at long last (or maybe sooner), will return us to You. This returning is the ultimate unknown, and so it is our biggest fear. Sadly, in our apprehension of “what happens when”, we over-focus on staying safe, and seek only to avoid and postpone this inevitable event. We try to be “ready”, thinking we can keep death in the far future by preparing and hoarding worldly goods in constantly shrinking barns. We push away – not always politely – any person, place, thing, or calling which might expose us – by what it asks of us – to this mysterious, shrouded, possibly painful end. Instead, should we not anticipate? Death is just an ending to this phase of existence, this time of practice for the next part of life. Once gone from this earthly classroom, we will either live on, literally with You, our Maker, as promised, or we will live on only in the dreamy (or nightmarish) memories of the people still waiting. Either way, our status with them will be based solely upon their direct experience of us, which reflects You, rejects You, or leaves them uniformed as to our true character and motives. Only one of those sounds pleasing.

So I will not, do not fear my passing. At times, I wonder about it, often with impatience, for I believe I have seen much, if not all, of what this version of reality has to offer. But I turn back, because I know there is always more “home work” I can do, studying Your gift of peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and I do my best to pass each test as I encounter it. You give many opportunities for me to change my grade. Father, hear my prayer, that improvement is the lesson.