Letting Some Time Pass

While on my recent personal retreat at a monastery in Iowa, I read a lot and attempted to process it during my prayer walks. As I was reading a book I began to think, “this will preach,” but then caught myself. I have a habit of doing this, of gaining an insight and quickly thinking how I can do a sermon on the subject, or maybe even a sermon series.

I realized that I needed to let God speak to me, for the sake of my relationship with Him. By immediately thinking of how I could use the insight in my ministry I professionalized it before I had fully personalized it.

I got to thinking how many things need to be processed or aged before they can be used. Lumber can’t be used straight from the forest but must be dried. Grapes, too, need to be given time to dry if you want raisins. Concrete needs time to set before you start walking on it or building on it. Yeast in bread dough has to be given time to ferment and make the bread rise. Tea needs to steep.

I need to give an idea, a concept, an insight from God time to work in me, for me to process it and apply it for myself, before I share it with others. Sharing with others that which has not had adequate time to work in me both short changes what it can do for me and what it can do for those with whom I share it.

Speak to me, Lord, and give me the patience to let your Word brew, steep, ferment, and marinate in me. Help me keep a good distance between the hearing and the speaking.

Message from the Monks

For several days I’m doing a private spiritual retreat at a monastery near Dubuque, Iowa (from where I’m writing this). The New Melleray Abbey is home to some 30 Trappist monks.

The monks are committed to a life of reflection on scripture, prayer, and worship. At first I thought it seemed such a waste to spend all your time growing in your personal faith and yet not really reaching out to others. In spite of the 90 plus degree heat I’ve been able to think clearly enough to straighten out such thinking.

The monks do reach out, to each other (their family are the other monks in the Abbey), they pray for people who send requests for prayer, they can host up to 18 people for retreats (the gift of hospitality), and they make caskets as a business which they see as a way to bring comfort to the sorrowing.

But, for me, their biggest “outreach” ministry is reminding the rest of the world that the Christian faith is not first about doing but about being. They are cloistered for the purpose of being with God. Those of us who seek to serve the Lord in our daily lives, wanting to do something for Him, can forget that first and foremost of all we are to be with Him! The monks remind me of this all important fact.

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