…this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
Just one thing? Only one? If I am honest with you, I have many questions of the Lord.
And perhaps that isn’t surprising when we consider how uncertain are the days in which we live, and how complex are the issues that we face.
And yet was David’s time really any simpler or more straight forward than ours? Was his life a ‘walk in the park’ in comparison? No, of course not, but he had just one thing to ask of the Lord. I guess that is more a reflection of his relationship with God, than of his circumstances. If so, then I yearn for less questions, less words in general, and more stillness.
Last autumn I was blessed with the opportunity of a sabbatical, and I decided to put that yearning into practice. I took myself off to spend time with some communities and writers who are better at silence and stillness than I am. Who seem to have moved beyond questions and words, and learned simply to “dwell”, “gaze” and “seek”. I confess it took some adjusting, especially in those long periods of complete silence, but boy did I benefit! My soul was nourished in a way I hadn’t previously known, as I slowed everything down to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.
I gazed through the lens of scripture, in particular through some ancient monastic approaches. I gazed through the lens of prayer, in particular through silent contemplation. And I gazed through the lens of my surroundings, taking time to be aware of even the simplest expressions of God’s creative self-revelation. But in each way, I was encouraged to gaze at less, so that my focus went much deeper than wider.
Of course, I was blessed with the time to linger, and ponder, and the challenge now is to sustain that in the more demanding pressure-pot that ministry can be. Perhaps as we enter Lent, we do well to recall that busyness, expectations and success are some of the weapons that Satan uses to distract us and to ‘wring us dry’. And that Jesus’ example was to take time out, especially in the busiest periods of ministry.
My prayer is for one thing, this Lent, and one thing only – that we may dwell with, gaze upon, and seek the Lord afresh.
With love in Christ,
Neil Le Tissier