Waiting on God

TCOM Spiritual Discipline – Class 2 November 13, 2007 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” - Psalm 46:10 God calls us into the future through the inspiration of His Holy Spirit. How do we make room to listen and wait before the Lord? The disciplines of listening include: Silence/Breathing Solitude Fasting (after re-thinking, I might add this discipline to inner) Meditation (God’s Word, Creation) Worship Retreat Sabbath 1. Entering the Sabbath Sabbath is central to the identity of the people of God. In Sabbath observance, we rest (Genesis 2:2-3) and remember (Exodus 20:8). Many of the future-oriented disciplines are rooted in a proper pattern of Sabbath observance. In the late 90s, I spent a winter weekend on retreat in North Carolina. I spent some time walking through an apple orchard. All the trees were bare. In the quietness of the orchard, I sat, reflected and wrote this little poem: Resting in an old wooden bench, Leaning sideways, On a hillside, Surrounded by Empty apple trees. An old tree squeaks Like a screen door As wind blows through us. Soft rays of light Stretch through the trees And across the hill. Sharp lines grow dull as Shadows and light merge And I hear the majesty of Ha Shem Softly calling from afar. In the stillness The earth trembles.
Cross Shaped Spiritual Formation, Class 2 Waiting on God, Doug Floyd, 1

Hidden resurrections Prepare. In a flash, a twinkle The dead will rise. During that weekend, the Lord spoke to me about how the stillness of the Sabbath broods over us, preparing us for resurrection life. A. Sabbath at the center of time. Abraham Joshua Heschel suggests that Sabbath is a cathedral built in time. Thus, properly understood, Sabbath is the monument God builds to His new creation (his relationship with that creation). (Monument is from monere, that which serves to keep alive the memory of a person, event, or period.) Sabbath reminds us of God’s relationship to the world, recalling the event of creation while pointing to the period when creation reaches perfection. Notes on Sabbath (Most of these came from Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “The Sabbath”): Sabbath is like a prince who was sent away from His Father. He spends many years away longing for His Father’s presence. One day he receives a message to prepare to return home for he will soon see his father again. The prince is so overcome with joy he wants to celebrate with the whole village. He enters the local tavern and orders drink and food for all. This is a day for rejoicing for the prince is returning to His father. The Sabbath reminds us to celebrate for we are going to the Father. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Sabbath is not so much a day as an atmosphere of rejoicing. Not a day for fasting and mourning but for feasting, rejoicing, celebrating. A day to rest from work and enjoy the Lord, his provision for us and our family. Day of preparation. Special foods are prepared for Sabbath. Every dresses up in their finest. The table is set with the finest china and silver in the house. At sundown. The priest blows three blasts on the trumpet. Sabbath is come! Mother covered with a white cloth. Lights the shabbot candles, encircles the flame with her hands, and welcomes the holiness of the Sabbath. She prays ceremonial and private prayers and often weeps tears of joy. Everyone waits with excitement as the Sabbath arrives like a bride or a queen illustrating God’s passion for His people. There is a toast to bless the Sabbath and then a meal. Two loaves of bread are served to symbolize the double portion of manna given in preparation for the Sabbath in the wilderness. The next day is set aside. No work of any kind. Instead the day is divided between feasting and instruction (feasting on God’s works). Synagogue – Torah is read and men are free to get up and speak. Family and friends spend the day together. At the end of the day, another meal. A candle is lit to separate the sacred and the
Cross Shaped Spiritual Formation, Class 2 Waiting on God, Doug Floyd, 2

eternal returning to normal time. Life is pilgrimage to the Sabbath. Days of the week numbered by the Sabbath: A. Three Days before Sabbath B. Two Days before Sabbath C. Day of Preparation D. Sabbath C. Day after Sabbath B. Two Days after Sabbath A. Three Days after Sabbath Sabbath is a time to remember the covenant. Sabbath is also a time of hope for the future. It is a gateway into eternity. Sabbath is the defining act of the Jewish culture. Sabbath preserved the Jewish culture during the exile. Sabbath is the great equalizer between men. All can freely celebrate the Sabbath. The Sabbath provides a “pattern of intimacy.” B. Sacred Time and Space We build intimacy through “spending time” together. Think about your family, friends and those you love. You spend time together. Sometimes you spend time with just one person. Other times with a group. Sometimes you designate as special like a birthday (special time set apart to celebrate a person’s birth). You may also “share space” together. A family shares the space within a house. Students share a classroom. Church members share the sanctuary. Some times and some places are set apart for special purposes. Relationships (with God and man) are SLOWLY created, nurtured, and expressed through sacred times and sacred places. Extravagant surprises of love. 2. The Art of Listening to God’s Word We need ears to hear. Thoughts from Hans Urs Von Balthasar: The Word of God is always present reality. “In prayer, ., man speaks to a God who has long since revealed Himself in a Word which is so stupendous and all-embracing that it can never be “past tense;” this Word resounds through all times as a present reality.” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von
Cross Shaped Spiritual Formation, Class 2 Waiting on God, Doug Floyd, 3

Balthasar God’s Word is God’s initiative and in it, He calls me forth “Prayer is a conversation in which God’s Word has the initiative and we, for the moment, can be nothing more than listeners. The essential thing for us is to hear God’s word and discover from it how to respond to him. His Word is truth opened up for us. For there is no ultimate, unquestionable truth in man; he knows this, as, full of questionings, he looks up to God and sets toward Him. God’s Word is His invitation to us to be with Him in the truth. We are in danger of drowning on the open sea, and God’s word is the rope ladder thrown down to us so that we can climb up into the rescuing vessel. It is the carpet, rolled out toward us so that we can walk along it to the Father’s throne. It is the lantern which shines in the darkness of the world (A world which keeps silence and refuses to reveal its own nature); it casts a softer light on the riddles, which torment us and encourages us to keep going. Finally, God’s Word is Himself, His most vital, his innermost self; his only begotten Son, of the same nature as himself, sent into the world to bring it home, back to him. And so God speaks to us from heaven and commends us to His Word, dwelling on earth for a while; “This is my beloved Son: listen to Him.’” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar God’s Word is new and we are old. “We yearn to restore our spirits in God, to simply let go in him and gain new strength to go on living. But we fail to look for Him where He is waiting for us, where he is to be found: in His Son, who is His Word….we fail to listen where God speaks; where God’s Word rain out in the world once for all, sufficient for all ages, inexhaustible. Or else we think that God’s Word as been heard on earth for so long that by now it is almost used up, that it is about time for some new word, as if we had the right to demand one. We fail to see that it is we ourselves who are used up and alienated, whereas the Words resounds with the same vitality and freshness as ever; it is as near to us as it always was. “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (Rom 10:8). We do not understand that once God’s Word has run out in the midst of the world, in the fullness of time, it is so powerful that it applies to everyone, all with equal directness; no one is disadvantaged by distance in space or time. True, there were a few people who become Jesus’ earthly partners in dialogue, and we might envy them (in) their good fortune, but they were as clumsy and inarticulate in this dialogue as we and anyone else would have been. In terms of listening and responding to Jesus’ real concerns they had no advantage over us; on the contrary, they saw the earthly, external appearance of the Word, and it is largely concealed from them the divine interior.” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar God’s Word makes a claim upon us. “It is impossible to listen to any individual Word of God without hearing the Son who is the Word. Moreover, it is futile to leaf through the writings of the Old and New Covenants in the hope of coming across truths of one kind or another, unless we are prepared to be exposed to a direct encounter with Him, with this personal, utterly free Word which makes sovereign claim upon us.” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar
Cross Shaped Spiritual Formation, Class 2 Waiting on God, Doug Floyd, 4

God’s Word addresses us personally. “The vital thing is the living encounter with the God who speaks to us in his Word, whose eyes pierce and purify us like a flame of fire (rev 1:14), whose command summons us to new obedience, who each day instructs us as if until now we had learned nothing, whose power sends us anew into the world upon our mission.” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar God’s Word calls man into His true identity. “Man was created to be a hearer of the word, and it is in responding to the word that he attains his true dignity. His innermost constitution has been designed for dialogue.” On Prayer, Hans Urs Von Balthasar Developing personal habit of listening to the Word of God (Proverbs 2, Psalm 19) 1. Rhythms of reading - place and time 2. The value of reading plans 3. The danger of reading plans 4. The discipline of soaking 5. Listening, journaling, waiting. 6. The creative mind and the moment of inspiration. Exercise – Spend a few minutes each day, soaking in Psalm 139. Read it, think about it, pray it, journal it. If one verse sticks out, then pause and just reflect on that verse. Come back each day to the same Psalm. Keep a journal of what goes through your mind. (Even the things that might seem like distractions or rabbit trails.)

Cross Shaped Spiritual Formation, Class 2 Waiting on God, Doug Floyd, 5