Sunday, March 18, 2007

Reflections on Quiet Times

As I look heavenward, considering my inheritance in Christ, understanding how much there is to know of and in the Godhead, I am amazed and chagrined at how lightly I value this opportunity to fellowship with the Most High, and with His Son. The fact that I have received so great a salvation should long ago have driven me to that point of utter abandonment in the Presence, as promised (implicitly) by my acknowledgement of Him at the point of conversion. Yet as others have said, and I paraphrase, how easy it is to think well and how hard it is to do right (Romans 7). Apart from your grace, O Lord, I can do nothing.

Perhaps that is to be the cornerstone of the quiet time, at least on the human side – unabashed dependence. For there is within us a weakness that knows no bounds, that sprawls like an oil slick on the ocean surface, or splashes like spilled milk across the table top, speeding to drench placemats, seeping under plates and dripping over table’s edge.

What is my only hope for such a spreading darkness? It reminds me of the way those “shoot ‘em up” video games end, when the player is finally killed: the perspective suddenly shows the sky and then the view grows fuzzy-dark around the edges, spreading oh so rapidly to the center until there is nothing left but darkness.

But my Lord has not called me to darkness, rather to His marvelous Light! And perhaps the essence of the quiet time on His part is the perfect expression of illumination – God’s Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. In a very crass illustration, I as a run-out battery-driven light source (not generating but reflecting His light) “plug in” to His power-socket of illumination. It is not as thought I gain power-cells (as the description “battery-driven” would imply), but rather that I collect the Light Himself through this Divine Conduit. The Light then shines through me out to a blind-dark world, and also shines as encouragement to my fellow Light-repositories, and sometimes as an exhortation.

It is not as though I actively accomplish this role (like I could somehow “plug” myself into this Light Source and bottle up the “download” for distribution), but really as in the most passive of ways, in humble dependence. My simple saying “Yes” to Him for that time of intimacy is like a power cord lying on the floor near an outlet. The cord can no more plug itself into the source than I can flap my arms and fly. But the great grace is that the cord can talk – and as the Holy Spirit passes by, the cord says, “Please” (all the while meaning to say something more like, “I would really like to connect to the ‘Power Source of the Ages’ if you please,” with that human tendency to self-exaltation of which we are so fond), and the Holy Spirit, in great mercy, bends down to plug us in, and it is not so much power that we receive, but Light – Very Light – that we might reflect (not generate, not originate, not produce with our good works or stylish words) His Light – glowing from within as though we were in the Godhead – in Christ!

So this confession is much more about His Sufficiency and Righteousness. My call to quiet time is an acknowledgement of desperate need as I look to Him to fulfill ALL, for this reveals a condition of extreme poverty that is our constant companion.

If it were not so, He would not have said, “The poor you will have with you always.” We never realized that He was speaking about us, ourselves, about the reality of our present state. Our ministry to the poor is truly in part to shine into us as with a mirror the true condition of our hearts, where we actually live. Apart from God in Christ, we are nothing.

Dearest Lord, turn aside every excuse that we might make in delaying or avoiding precious quiet time with You. Truly, Light hurts as it opens up our personal darkness. But Light is our Life, and the Word is its Source, even Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, as the Holy Spirit passes by, we one by one whisper, “Please . . .”


Elise said...

I'm whispering, too... please ...
I'm turning inward to contemplate this, Papa. It seems I am being called to some quiet time, and I have not heard the call for the noise I am making.
Reflecting the Night Light...

kevin said...

The image of spilled milk was powerful. I just saw this yesterday as Corban spilled his water on the dinner table. We were all affected by his accident. In the same way, sin is never personal - it creeps out and touches us all. Thanks for the reflection!