Friday, February 29, 2008

Cliff Dwelling

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3).

Most mornings my husband gets up very early, long before daylight, and I usually prepare a brown bag lunch for him. One morning, I decided to stay awake for an hour and finish leftover chores. Unloading the dishwasher and tidying up the house is not calculus, and my thoughts took a leave of absence from the mundane tasks.

I dwelled on the latest writing project. I toss a lot around in my brain before anything is actually pounded out on keyboard. Faded childhood memories surfaced and took on color and I toyed with words and conjured descriptive phrases.

Even though my brainwaves crashed against a distant shore, my hands were busy as I walked from room to room and tidied up. Floating back to reality, I looked down. I’d completely made up my bed—sheet corners tucked, pillows plumped and comforter in place. I like to consider myself industrious, but I had planned to rest a few more hours.

Often we find our minds drifting during familiar routines. It’s a common problem. That’s when I put the sugar bowl in the refrigerator, the milk in the pantry, the dog in the crib, the kid outside. The most disturbing time my mind walks off is when I’m spending time with God, through Bible study, prayer or meditation.

How can inattention be solved, especially during this important time? Clues can be found in a long ago meeting between Moses and God. Prior to their meeting, Moses made two requests of God: "Teach me your ways so that I may know you," and " . . . show me your glory."

God’s response: “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.”

From that encounter, I see two clues for staying focused: solitude and setting an appointment. Moses wanted to know God better, and God chose a quiet place near himself for the meeting—just God and Moses. The results were magnificent: On a mountain in a cliff, Moses glimpsed God.

Prearranging a quiet time-slot, moments alone with God is one of the best gifts we give ourselves. Our friends and family receive fringe benefits. Thoughtfulness, good character, compassion, kindness are all enhanced after meeting with the master teacher.

Life is busy and sometimes it feels like I-45 has been re-routed through our home. God is totally able to teach me on an interstate, but contemplating God on a freeway or a quiet country lane is as different as tornadoes and tranquility.

Life teases with a bouquet of distractions, but God longs for intimate meetings. Arrange quiet times with God, and watch for cliff blessings. Watch for God’s protective, covering and helping hand in life.

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