in the shadows

SONY DSCOn Sunday I had a mini retreat. Members of our church were leading the services and it gave me the opportunity to have some time just with me and Jesus. It was a bit unorthodox. My plan was to drive out of Colchester and find somewhere quiet to sit, read, contemplate and pray. But everywhere I went there were people. It was a lovely sunny day and the roads were full of cyclists, Sunday drivers and people who had blown the cobwebs off their convertible cars. The places where I thought I would stop were already occupied.

So in the end I spent some of the day just driving, appreciating God’s countryside, and thinking. Eventually I found myself overseas. Well, on Mersea Island anyway. I found a quietish car park and settled down to read and pray. I started to read some of the sermons that Charles H Spurgeon had preached around the Communion table (the book is called ‘Till He Come’).

The second one I read was called ‘Under His shadow’ and was based on Psalm 91:1. In the King James Version that Spurgeon used it reads as:

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

The new New International Version translates the same verse as:

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

I found myself captivated by that, and Spurgeon’s reflections on that one verse were uplifting, inspiring, encouraging and challenging. I won’t rehearse them all here because I am still contemplating them for myself, but think for a moment about what the Psalmist wrote.

What does ‘the shelter (or secret place) of the Most High’ mean?

What does it mean to abide (rest) in the shadow of the Almighty?

There’s so much in these words but surely as a minimum they indicate a close proximity to God. You can’t be in his shadow if you are a long way away. You can’t be sheltered by him if you are distant from him.

If you are in need of rest or shelter I suggest the first thing to do is start with drawing closer to God. And a good place to start is where I started – take yourself off and spend some time with Jesus. He’s waiting for you…

Be blessed, be a blessing.

beesyness

Sorry about the lack of bloggage yesterday (a lackage?). The last few days have been the sort of days where I have been able to do all I have set out to do, but each activity has flowed into the next without much breathing space in between. I find I can sustain that level for a short time but I soon need space to breathe and reflect at a more gentle pace.

I have been doing lots of different things, meeting lots of different people – planned and unplanned, writing, reading, studying, making phone calls, taking phone calls, writing and sending emails, receiving emails, and much more besides. I have (to coin a phrase) been busy as a bee.

bee 2That’s an interesting phrase. Because bees seem to spend a lot of their time resting on flowers sucking up nectar. The cross-pollination that takes place because of the pollen that sticks to their furry little bodies is not their beesyness. Their real beesyness is to collect nectar to feed the bee colony.

It is very easy to justify your existence (especially as a Minister) by how busy you are. I know of some Ministers who are always on duty, always active on church business, always available. Their identity is their role: their role is their identity. Take away church and they haven’t got much else.

But is that a sensible or even a Biblical approach? We don’t have to read very far into the Bible to read about God taking a day off! Recreation is re-creation and it’s essential if we are to function properly as human beings.

I have a rechargeable battery inside me. It supplies power to an occipital nerve stimulator that is successfully moderating chronic migraine and cluster headaches, but that’s another story. I have to recharge it regularly as the electronics are rather sensitive. If I allow the battery to discharge completely there can be problems. I have been told that it is possible that the ONS can be restarted if I let the battery run out once. If it happens twice it is unlikely to be restarted. A third time would almost certainly be fatal to the system and it would need to be replaced with all of the cost and surgery involved. I am acutely aware of the need to recharge.

We all need to be re-charged, re-created and re-freshed: emotionally, spiritually, physically. There is no special prize in heaven for getting there early because you worked yourself into an early grave!

So what re-charges , re-creates and re-freshes you? Is it a regular part of your routine? If not I hope you also have a superhero cape to go with your superman / superwoman powers!

Be blessed, be a blessing.