Don’t You Just Love a Good Symphony?


10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” [Psalm 46:10a]

The view from my back deck 0615 this morning

A funny thing has happened to me over the last few days.

Well, not all that funny if you know me well.  You see, I’ve been craving silence.

Sometimes it seems as though I need silence like other people need air.  It feeds me and fills me with a kind of strength and peace that is simply unattainable any other way.  In the silence I hear God.

Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t speak to me audibly like some other worldly and disembodied voice from upon high.  He doesn’t make bold pronouncements like “build an ark” or “let my people go”.  I’ve often lamented that I wish he would speak to me that way, the way he spoke to Moses through the burning bush or how he woke a young Samuel from a deep sleep.  But then again that would likely be terrifying so I guess I’ll pass.

No, God speaks to me in those thoughts that come in the quiet moments of the day.  He brings to mind people to pray for and reach out to, he plants the seeds of action and progress for my life, ministry and business but more often than not he just says:  “hey there – I’m here with you, I’m on your side, I’ve got this, relax I love you.”

Some days I tend to be a bit of a striver.  I run hard after things, like an athlete going for gold.  I remember the first time I read 1 Corinthians 9:24, I said; “Yup that’s me, I want to be that guy.”

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. [1 Corinthians 9:24, 25]

I work hard, sometimes too hard.

In my business we use a personality matrix to help us understand ourselves better so that we can direct our efforts toward the kind of prospects that respond best to our personal styles.  I’m sure you’ve seen similar things in whatever business you spend your time in.  They’ve been a staple of popular management psychology for at least the last 30 years.  The one we use the most breaks people down into 4 categories; analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.

Through a series of question and response tests you can place yourself on a quadrant diagram in one of the four areas and presto, this is who you are and how you work best.  Problem is that every time I do one of these tests, if I take my time and am honest with myself I land so close to the middle of the diagram that they tell me I must not have been honest.  Apparently nobody can be so balanced in their responses as to be nearly equal in all four traits.  Except me that is, but I digress.

On days when I tend to be a striver, (I prefer the term to driver because to my mind it better depicts a goal that you are reaching for, I’m pretty sure you can be a driver and still lack direction.) I sometimes run off ahead of God.  And when I get ahead of God things start to fall apart, deals fall through, relationships get strained and I start to crave silence so I can stop for a minute and listen to God.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately so I tried for some quite time yesterday.  Saturdays are usually a good day to unplug from the world and sit in silence for a while but there were too many things to do, too many errands to run and too many people to visit.  I started to feel myself getting angry so I calmed myself down by resolving to get up early this morning and sit in the silence.

I began with some deep breathing exercises and an “Our Father.”  And then it happened.  The birds started it.  Not just one or two but a veritable symphony!

I was annoyed, how’s a guy supposed to hear God with all this damn chirping?  But that wasn’t all; a car with a bad muffler started up in the distance, then my neighbor’s air conditioner kicked in, a dog started barking and an airplane took off.  Did I mention I live just a few kilometers from the airport?

But just as I was about to get really upset and give up in frustration I heard it.  God whispering to me through the noise; “Don’t you just love a good symphony?”

I took another deep breath and started over; “Our Father, who art in heaven… listen to the symphony of praise your creation has brought this fine morning!

Hallowed be thy name….”

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

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Standing Under


About fifteen years ago my wife and I took a vacation to St. Louis, Missouri. We were living in London, Ontario at the time and I was working shift work in a call centre. When we transitioned off of the night shift we were usually given 3 days off to rest and reset before we were asked to come in on a day shift. But by some fluke of scheduling it so happened that I was given 5 days off.

We were newly married at the time and hadn’t yet taken a honeymoon so with this extra time we decided to pack up the car and see how far we could get and what we could see. Well my wife is big Little House on the Prairie fan and she had always wanted to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house in Mansfield Missouri. That’s only about a 10 hour drive from London so I being the good husband that I am, agreed. On our way down we stopped and stayed for a day in St. Louis and went to the Gateway Arch.

gatewayarch

The Gateway Arch is a massive steel structure that serves as a monument to all the American pioneers who passed through St. Louis on their way to open up the west. St. Louis was the last chance to stock up on supplies before heading out in to the frontier. Once you crossed the Mississippi river at St. Louis, you were on your own.

As I stood under the Gateway Arch and looked up at this incredible mass of steel and glass rising into the sky I remember thinking to myself, “I sure hope the engineers knew what they were doing when they built this.” That is of course a ludicrous thought considering that the Gateway Arch has stood on that spot for over 50 years. I certainly didn’t need to understand the math or the physical construction work that went into the structure to confidently stand under it. All I really needed to do was submit to the idea that someone else did.

I was recently reminded of the fact that at least in part that is what the word “understand” means; to stand under and submit to knowledge that you may not fully grasp. Understanding therefore is an act of submission to truth, not dominance over it and you can understand something without knowing exactly how it works.

That’s how it is with God.

I understand God, in that I stand under Him. I submit to Him. I know that God is Love and that my life must reflect that love back on the world. I submit to that fact and that command, even when I don’t fully grasp it. I know it to be true even if I don’t know how it works.

That may sound nonsensical to you. But if you’re being honest I bet there are a number of “facts” that you stand under without understanding them in the traditional sense. Each and every one of us live every day in submission to something that we don’t fully grasp. We base our understanding on evidence and observation not on knowledge of how things work together to achieve the result.

What are some truths that you are submitted to? What do you stand under in your life?