Sunday, 24 November 2019

The Quiet Place

There is an interesting passage in the Gospels that says, "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" (Mark 6: 30-31; NIV)

The "quiet place" …

Doesn't that sound wonderful? In the bustle and hustle of our busy noisy world, a quiet place. In the workplace's plethora of stressors, a quiet place. When the job is sometimes so insanely busy that you don't even have a chance to stop and eat lunch, a quiet place. When introverts, like me, are pushed beyond our comfort zones in an extroverted world, a quiet place.

I love that. I need that. My quiet place is a simple but comfortable recliner in a corner of my living room. A small table for Bible and books on my left hand, and another small table on my right for my coffee. Conspicuously absent from my quiet place is a TV. There is not even the distraction of music when I'm in my quiet place. There are times and places elsewhere in the house for that. No noise. No distractions. No interruptions. The place is … quiet.

My quiet place is where I often go to in the wee hours of the morning when I find myself not sleeping. While the rest of the house slumbers on, including the dog, I like to curl up with my Bible and cup of coffee and quietly listen for what the Lord desires to tell me. Who knows; perhaps that's why I often awaken at 3:00am. It's a place for prayer and for meditation. It's a place for seeking God. It's a place for quieting my soul and finding much needed internal peace. "Seek peace and pursue it," says 1 Peter 3:11. My quiet place is my sanctuary.

My quiet place is also where I often go to after work to destress and to try an clear my head from the day's shenanigans. As a confessed bibliophile, with an extensive personal library that seems to have the ability to constantly grow in volumes, my quiet place is where I enjoy those literary treasures.

The one time my quiet place is not so quiet, however, is when the grandkids come over and climb on their Opa's lap. While then no longer quiet, the wiggling little priceless treasures are guaranteed to make it a memorable and enjoyable place as well.

Peace and blessings, friends. May you find and enjoy your own quiet place as well.

"He leads me beside quiet waters"
Psalm 23:2

Thursday, 21 November 2019

The Blessing

There are days when I just don't know how I'm going to be able to carry on. Do you ever have days like that? I'm sure you do too.

Perhaps it's all a part of being a member of the human race, compounded by existing in a fallen world. Sin? Stress? A combination of both, combined with perhaps countless other contributors? Who knows?! Sometimes life just sucks, despite our best efforts!

All theology aside, I've had a plethora of days like that lately.

However, almost three years ago, something happened to me that helped to greatly reduce the anxiety and stress of those workplace blues; I became a grandfather, or as I'm now known, an Opa. Suddenly, that infamous and anonymous mantra, "If I'd known grandkids could be this much fun, I'd have had them first," seemed to make a lot of sense. Life suddenly turned a new page and became unbelievably joyous once again. Strange how the arrival of a grandchild (or two, in my case) can have such a profound effect.

Yesterday, after work, the plan was that I would go to my daughter's home, and pick up my wife who had been visiting and helping out there for most of the day. As usual, my brain was toast; the workplace junk of the day had all but sapped the life out of me. Still, dutifully after work I went as planned; my better half needed a ride home, and a quick hello and hug with the grandbabies is, of course, always a welcomed benefit too.

I walked into my daughter's house and she greeted me with, "Do you want a little girl?" The tired side of me wanted to say, "No." The Opa side of me instinctively said, "Yes." My little 8-month old granddaughter was crying buckets of big tears, as she went through the pain of teething. I know that all you parents and grandparents can relate.

I walked up to her, speaking softly to her and wiping those giant tears with my finger, and she began to settle down and even smile at me. Whatever my previous problems were, were no longer relevant; a precious little girl was teething, and apparently needing her Opa. That became the priority.

Meanwhile, my almost three year old grandson was downstairs playing with my wife. He heard me come in, and promptly ran upstairs to see his Opa. It wasn't long before both grandbabies were bouncing on my lap and having a good time (my daughter even captured the moment on a beautiful photo, which I shall always cherish).

After a while, who really knows how long, my granddaughter wound up back in my daughter's arms. Suddenly, out of the blue, my grandson looks up at me and says, "Opa, sing me a song." Before I knew it, and completely unrehearsed, I softly sang to him, "Jesus loves me." Throughout my less than stellar performance, my grandson put his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms tightly around my neck for what could have been an eternity. As I stumbled through the song, hoping I didn't screw up the lyrics too badly, he just sat there quietly and held on tight.

Three year olds never sit quietly for much … ever.

When finally the beautiful stranglehold embrace subsided, a new peace resided in my heart. Whatever the junk of the business world was that had previously torn me apart, suddenly and strangely was completely absent. I was fussing about … what?

Maybe that's why God created grandchildren; they were blessed with the beautiful ability of calming down the nerves of us old codgers, who have wrestled our workplaces for more years than we can or want to admit, settling us down and reminding us that, God is good.

Peace and Blessings, my friends. God is good.

"May you see your children's children!"
Psalm 128:6

Friday, 15 November 2019

From the Scriptorium

So what do you, my Christian brother and sister, do for morning devotions?

Three years ago, about Thanksgiving weekend 2016 (Canadian Thanksgiving is in October), my son turned me on to the idea of copying the New Testament by hand. Bored with the humdrum of what had become my morning devotions, and yearning for something new and a little more fulfilling, I was up for the challenge. Copy the entire New Testament by hand? Well why not?!

This was not a totally new idea for me. I was reminded of a Christian brother that I used to work with some years back who had done something similar. He had decided to create a hand written New Testament for each of his children as a High School graduation gift. If memory serves me correct, he had four children. Therefore, if he kept to this goal, he would have copied the New Testament by hand four times. While I'm not sure if he succeeded or not, I thought it an admirable goal.

So here we were, Thanksgiving 2016, and my son and daughter-in-law were back home for a visit. Over the long weekend, somehow the topic came up and he turned me on to the idea of copying the New Testament by hand as a devotional project. Suddenly, reminded of my former coworker who had done likewise, I bought into the idea. Cool. What a great idea!

I went to our local Chapters and bought a few beautiful green lined journals, with an embossed tree on the cover. I liked them instantly, thinking of how they reminded me of the biblical tree of life. How appropriate, I thought; Bible and tree of life. Eventually there would be ten volumes making up the set.

Unlike most Bibles, my handwritten version had no chapter or verses, with the exception of a header reference on the top left page corner. I also omitted paragraph divisions, which in my way of thinking, made it a little closer to the style of the original book/letter. I did, however, choose to add the sectional headings provided by the translation I was copying.

Well, in a much quicker time than I had anticipated, I completed copying the whole New Testament, from Matthew through Revelation. Now what? Since I wasn't ready to quit just yet, and since I was enjoying the project, I thought of adding the Psalms and Proverbs. I quickly scrapped that idea and decided to go back to Genesis and head through the Old Testament, all the way to Malachi. Well suddenly, about 37-months after beginning with this devotional project, I found myself on November 15, 2019, having completed copying the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. Wow! What a bitter-sweet sense of accomplishment; bitter-sweet because of both the accomplishment, and the inevitable "now what?" question.

Next, as a hobby woodworker and leather carver, I am thinking of making a wooden slipcase for my ten-volume Bible, perhaps inlaid with some hand-carved leather. When completed, this may make a nice family heirloom to leave to my children and grandchildren.

So here we are. Please forgive my momentary pride; I just hand-wrote the entire Bible! I wonder if the amanuensis of old felt the same jubilation in their scriptoriums upon completing their copy of the Scriptures assigned to them? Hmm.

May God bless me with a glimpse into a new early-morning devotional routine that gives me a deeper understanding and following of Him. May He bless you with an equally rewarding quiet time.

Peace and Blessings, my brothers and sisters. God is good!

You may also be interested in seeing these related posts:
My Devotional Life: A Three Year Anniversary
My Devotional Life: A Handwritten Bible
Me as an Amanuensis: Morning Devotional's Next Level?
Morning Devotions Are Awesome Once Again