Sunday, April 12, 2009

Silent Nights

I'm a night-owl. I can't help it. Ever since childhood, I can remember never being tired when I was supposed to be. Sure, I had bedtimes, but that didn't keep me from laying awake in my bed. Even now, as an adult who routinely wakes up before 7am every morning, I still can't fall asleep until at least midnight.

But there are benefits. It's quiet at night. Life with four kids is... well... it's noisy. There are arguments, conversations, squeals of laughter, screams of delight, sobs of disappointment and that's just breakfast. So when night falls, and children are fast asleep, I enjoy my peace. I can read, relax, watch TV and, most importantly, talk with God.

I keep a journal by my bed. I don't write in it everyday, but I write often. I write down my fears (can I really do this God?) My successes (I can't believe You did this God!) My failures (I can't believe what I did God.) And my hopes (Will you really do this God?) Every once in a while, I leaf through my past writings and reflect.

"Boy, I was immature."
"Man, I can't believe how great God is."
"Wow, I really lacked some faith there."

Then these reflections grow into conversations as God reveals Himself to me through out my life's journey. He tells me how He seasoned me and prepared me. He reminds me of how He provides for me. He encourages me to have even more faith to trust His way instead of my own.

Without my quiet night time there would be no conversations. No reflections. No perspective. No relationship with God. So my question is: what's the noise in your life? Is it kids? Finances? Job? Relationship troubles? Health Issues? Addictions? Whatever is making noise, you need to find a way to put it to bed. God speaks loudest in the silent moments. Remember Elijah and the "small voice"? That came in the midst of chaotic noise. When you want to hear God loud and clear, you need silence. Turn off the cell phone. Unplug the TV. Log off your computer and, as the Psalmist prescribes, "be still and know that [He is] God."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Get Sharp!

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." A familiar proverb to me, and one that has proven true this week. I sit in my best friend's living room, a room I haven't sat in for nearly three years. It has been way too long since I've been in Kentucky. I have missed my friends, but more than that, I have missed our "sharpening sessions."
In the mornings, when we walk the dogs, we talk.
"What books are your reading?"
"What's God doing in your life now?"
"What are you struggling with?"
"Where is God leading you?"
These are wighty questions, but for iron to sharpen, it must face something equally as hard as it is. The sharpening process involves two things. (1) The blade must be "uncurled" or straightened. Whne you see a chef use a sharpening rod, this is what he is doing. A blade will actually "roll" over time. It's nearly microscopic, but that rolled edge means a dull blade. (2) Friction is used to hone the blade to the sharpest possible point. That is when a whetstone comes into play. The blade is dragged across the stone to remove any nicks and imperfections.
When my friend and I ask these questions we are uncurling ourselves, exposing our hearts, passions, dreams and fears to one another. We are opening ourselves to God's whetstone so that we can be honed as instruments for His glory. The questions aren't always easy to ask, and sometimes they are even more difficult to answer. But I want to be sharp. I want to be useful.
So as I sit in this familiar room I realize, I need to visit more often. My blade was dulled. My effectiveness slowed. I needed a good sharpening. After all, that's what friends are for.