I don’t know about you, but the last few days have been like waking up from a disorienting dream as we navigate the harsh realities of a pandemic. Lent has shifted from a choice to a way of life inflicted upon us. And I’m paying attention because this penitential season is preparation for resurrection. What might God be preparing us for right now? How might walking through the wilderness of uncertainty lead to promises fulfilled? As we cross over the middle point in the 40-days of Lent, what you hear may determine how you arrive at Easter. Read on.

Sitting at the dining table in a warm swath of sunshine, I push a bite of salad onto the tines of my fork when I hear H sauntering down two flights of stairs to join me. For verbal processing, not eating lunch. The shirt tail of his button down is untucked, and palms are positioned in the pockets of his faded jeans. Wearing house slippers instead of leather Oxford’s, working from home is his new normal.

“How was your walk to Holland Park,” he asks, sliding the ladderback away from the table and sitting down across from me.

“Great! I met a delightful lady from the Middle East, and we chatted from opposite ends of a park bench for quite some time. I invited her to church. It’s gorgeous outside,” I report back to him.

In a lull between conference calls with colleagues, he begins rattling off the latest news update; recent projections on the coronavirus based on numbers of tests and deaths occurring. Before moving onto new details involving self-isolating, social distancing, hoarding, and lockdowns, I stop him mid-sentence and then swallow.

“This cannot be the focus of every conversation,” I tell him, “my heart can’t handle it.”

My H is an enneagram five information junkie. For him, it’s all about gleaning information to make wise, thoughtful decisions. But for my (sometimes) oversensitive enneagram four personality, adversity is processed through the sieve of emotions. My heart has a darkness threshold and recently, the headlines surpass that capacity. You?

Instead of the play-by-play, I’m now on a need to know basis. Not because I have my head in the sand but because I want to discern the voice of God and respond like Samuel, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? . . . . The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.” Romans 14, 17 MSG

I don’t know about you but more than listening to dire news reports, I long to listen for God’s still small voice amidst the chaos. A late morning walk in the park has become a lifeline; a practice in resting my ears and allowing God to infuse my heart with hope again.

The trill of birds, laughter of a child, rustle of leaves blowing in the breeze, foreign accent of a stranger, and the playful bark of a dog—these simple things, when I pause to listen, center thoughts on God as Jehovah—I AM WHO I AM.

This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’ Jer. 33:3, MSG

Questions to Ponder

What are you listening to right now that causes your heart to fear?

What marvelous and wonderful things are you hearing from God?

How might resting your ears from the voices of people create margin for hearing Peace amidst your uncertainty?

My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand.” John 10:27 MSG 

Prayer of Repentance

Lord, forgive me for all the ways I have found comfort, sought knowledge, and made decisions outside of your love, wisdom, and leadership. In the absence of the familiar, help me to reorient my heart back to your powerful presence. Show me where you are at work in the world. Even in the silence, I believe you are the Waymaker, making a way for us to bring glory to you, O Lord.  Help me to make good choices in what I listen to today; choices that cultivate faith, grow belief, and remind me of the hope I have in being deeply loved and fully known by you. Amen!

Practicing a Sabbath Posture

This week, as we live into the new global norm of self-isolation and social distancing, think of resting your ears as a spiritual practice of discernment. Take some time to sit in a quiet place and write down what you hear—the roar of an airplane overhead, the coo of doves conversing, rain pelting the window, chug of water circulating through the dishwasher. Make a list and notice what you’ve been missing in busyness. Then listen to your heart and wait for God to speak to you. What marvelous things might you hear?

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 20:31, ESV

Please Partake of Things that Propagate Peace

I’ve been keeping a list of books I read this year on a secret page of my website. And I recently added a few good reads that are bringing peace and comfort amidst uncertain times. If you are looking for words that are life-giving right now, you can find that list here.

Beauty is resuscitation for the soul, and in times of uncertainty, I tend to seek beauty as if I’m flatlining. In the evenings, I’m flipping through the gorgeous pages of Eden and Vine magazine, chock full of breathtaking photographs, soul-stirring articles, yummy recipes, creative ideas, practical resources, and stories themed around Sabbath. It’s a quiet retreat available to savor any time of the day. And good news! Through the month of April, use the code SHELLY20 and receive a 20% discount. Your soul will thank you.

Photo by @terricajoy on Instagram

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram where I share the beauty I’m collecting on my camera, keeping conversation fresh between us several times a week. Subscribe to the Sabbath Society for weekly letters of encouragement, breath prayers, poems, and resources that help make rest realistic in your world.

Share this post with your friends because we all need to remember the truth of who God is while in the heat of uncertainty, yes?

Until next week . . . I’ll be resting with you on the Sabbath Journey for Lent.