I’ve been reading the book “Invitation of Solitude and Silence” by Ruth Haley Barton, and it’s been a wonderful experience. The author writes in such an approachable way, and I love her insights into the joy of entering into quiet.
Last week, I read her take on Elijah when he was fleeing from the prophets of Baal. The prophets of this idol wanted to kill Elijah because he proved the power of God. Maybe you remember the two altars? One for the prophets of Baal, and one for Elijah. An offering was placed on the altar, and it was up to the prophets to pray and plead with their God to send down fire to burn the offering. Baal didn’t come through but the God of Elijah, our God, sure did.
Elijah was elated that God came through for him, but also scared witless. All the other prophets of the Lord had been killed or arrested; he was the only one left. And now he was fleeing for his own life. He was tired and scared and needed the solace of God, so he made his escape, hoping to run right into the arms of God in the wilderness.
Elijah was hungry for an experience of the divine Presence, and even the public display of God’s power in the fire that consumed the altars of Baal could not fully satisfy that hunger. He had some inkling of where to go to find what he was looking for, and he was willing to walk faithfully and resolutely in that direction…
Elijah’s wilderness experience is a powerful metaphor for the vast emptiness all of us must walk through on the way to encounter with God. But how we as human beings seek to avoid this truth of the spiritual life! The experience of our emptiness is so painful we will do almost anything to avoid it- and most of us do for a long, long time.
That chapter has stayed right with me, although I read it many days ago. I ask myself, “Am I ready to face the ‘vast emptiness’ and clear my calendar?” Am I willing to put aside some commitments to dedicate time to silence with the hope of finding God there?
It didn’t take much time to realize that God was calling me to rest and quiet. There’s a reason why this chapter affected me so deeply. I believe God is calling me to slow down, and settle into silence. I also think he might be leading me to a new path, which would mean going back to school. Is that something I should do? Well, I’m not sure really, but I’d love the time to investigate that opportunity.
As a part of paring down my commitments, I’ve decided to stop blogging. I’ve been writing here for almost five years, and I’ve really loved meeting so many wonderful bloggers, and seeing friends and family visit here too. It’s been wonderful, but also time consuming. I’m not saying that I’ll never come back (never say never!), but for now, it’s time to sink into more space in my day, and I look forward to that.
May you have a wonderful, holy and inspiration-filled Lenten Season, and a joyous Easter! If you would pray for me, I’d appreciate it so much. Know that I will be praying for you.
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