As the restrictions of COVID continue, many are beginning to feel edgy and anxious. Who knew this would go on for so long? I wonder, what is God saying through all this? Here’s what I know: God often invites us out of the chaos of life to come, pull away, and allow Him to renew us.
This past week, I was reading in Mark 7:31-37 about when Jesus healed the deaf and dumb man. I’ve always loved this particular story and have felt great empathy for the man who couldn’t hear or speak. As I was reading, these words jumped off the page at me: “He took him aside away from the crowd” (Mark 7:33). It’s so intriguing to me that Jesus took the man away from the crowd in order to heal him. As I’ve been meditating on those words, I realized this pattern is often repeated in the life of the believer.
God takes us aside to accomplish deep work in us,
so that He might pour powerfully through us.
John Bunyan was silenced and thrown in jail for his faith. While in a prison cell he wrote the masterpiece Pilgrim’s Progress. If John had never gone to prison, I wonder if we would have Pilgrim’s Progress today? Similarly, Madame Guyon, a French saint, was also set aside in prison. Yet, out of her confinement came Experiencing the Depths of Jesus. And then there’s the Apostle Paul. He wrote some of his greatest Epistles while under house arrest. Is it possible that God has orchestrated a type of house arrest for us to take us deeper into Him and His purposes for our lives?
For many of us, it is difficult to be taken aside. I mean, who wants to be benched so to speak from the action on the playing field of life? Who wants to be set aside? Yet, in solitude, God often opens our ears to His voice and unleashes our tongues with a greater anointing to speak for His glory. When Jesus healed the deaf and dumb man, He put His fingers in the man’s ears, and then He used His own spit to unleash the man’s tongue. It is the very life of Christ that brought healing and restoration to the man’s sense of hearing and the man’s ability to speak. In solitude, in the quiet, there is a holy exchange:
We Give Him Our Brokenness in Exchange for His Healing. Sometimes we don’t even know how broken we are until He lovingly pulls us aside. There, in His unhurried presence, He gently points out places where we need further healing and forgiveness.
We Give Him Our Exhaustion in Exchange for His Strength. There are different kinds of exhaustion. Certainly, there’s physical exhaustion; but then there’s mental exhaustion, spiritual exhaustion, or even creative exhaustion. As we learn to abide in God’s unhurried presence, out of the fray, He quiets our souls and renews our strength.
We Give Him Our Stories in Exchange for His Message. Just as Jesus loosened the deaf man’s tongue, He unleashes in us a fresh relevant message to be used for God’s glory. If you’ve never spent extended time in God’s presence relishing His company, please don’t try to speak His message.
There was an old song that I remember from years ago called, “I Needed the Quiet” by Alice Hansche.
“I needed the quiet so He drew me aside,
Into the shadows where we could confide.
Away from the bustle where all the day long
I hurried and worried when active and strong.”
As I reflect on the words of Alice’s poem, I realize this season of COVID confinement has been a blessing in many ways; perhaps we as the body of Christ needed the quiet.
The next time you feel isolated or lonely, why don’t you try thanking God for the quiet. Ask Him what healing He wants to do in your life and what message He wants to speak through you. I’m guessing you needed the quiet to recalibrate and recharge.
For those of you who are unexpectedly homeschooling and are longing for quiet, why not take a day to enjoy Christ’s presence. Find a babysitter for a day or trade houses with a friend. Use the day to enjoy God’s presence. I know you will come away refreshed.