Today started out as flurry of activity, but ended up in peace and rest.
After the normal early morning men’s meeting in Van Buren, I stood in the parking lot too long visiting. Now everything had to go perfectly to honor a couple commitments and make it to my house in time to pick up two brothers who were to join me for the peaceful, relational drive to a monastery one hour east of Fort Smith for a little solitude and spiritual retreat.
The first stop went perfectly, as if the Lord went before me. Then there was a long, fast drive to the south side of town to deliver five books to a good friend who had already bought books for himself and his three sons, but wanted five more for gifts. I was naturally honored to oblige. I wheeled into the Waffle House parking lot just as my friend and another good friend were sitting down for breakfast. We greeted each other with smiles, hand shakes, and hugs, and I plopped down at the end of the table and began signing the gift books as quickly as I could. I had told these two about the retreat, waiting friends, and that I was on the run.
I had just finished signing number three, when the waitress started asking questions about the book, with my friends answering for me. Then she asked, “How much?” I turned and told her. She said, “I’ll buy one.” My friend buying the five quickly spoke up and said, “No you won’t; I’m buying it for you.” We all looked at each other smiling, and I asked, “Who do you want me to sign it to?” She replied, “Don Hutchings, my pastor.” “ I owe him everything. He led me to the Lord. I’ll read it first, then I’ll give it to him.” “Coincidence,” but Don is a friend of mine in another church in our city. Just as I hand the book to her, and start to sign the next one, my book buying friend, Shep, exclaims loudly, “Charlie Huff!” I keep writing and don’t look up, conscious of the escaping time, but I know I will. Charlie Huff is an old squadron mate of ours! The four of us flew F-4 Phantoms together in Fort Smith and around the world. What a “coincidence” that he would be in town, and show up at the same restaurant, at the same time, when we hadn’t seen each other for years? He asked about the book as he watched me feverishly signing, catching up through conservation at the same time. The others answered his questions, just as with the waitress, then Charlie said, “Well, I guess I ought to buy one!” Shep spoke up quickly again, as before, “No you’re not! I’m going to buy one for you!” So with five books turning into seven, I ran out to the truck to fetch two more. With all books signed and delivered, I’m about to head out the door and drive to my house, but I have a strong impression that leads to the next “coincidence.”
I had written a Scripture reference in Charlie’s book, but I had a strong impression to stop at the table where he was now seated for breakfast with his childhood friend, and ask if I could write another verse in his book. I wrote Isaiah 40:31, “They that wait upon the LORD, He’ll renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” I quoted it to him as I wrote. I don’t really know where Charlie is spiritually, but he looked me straight in the eye and said, “That was written over the door of life support in Ubon Thailand; I walked under it as I headed to fly many missions in Vietnam. It was very meaningful to him. “Coincidence?”
I told my friends about all this “coincidence” and the Spirit’s leading as we drove through fields and forests to the monastery, sharing our lives and relationships with the Lord. Then as we went to our rooms for the afternoon, I was lead to Matthew 16, and the point where Jesus started to set His face like flint toward Jerusalem, the time of laying down His life for others, even down to this day and to us. It’s recorded in Matthew 16. I read and journaled from Matthew 16:13 through Matt 17:8.
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”” (Matthew 16:13)
Peter gives his famous answer, and enters his famous discourse with Christ.
“Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16–17)
I read on to Matt 17:8 before going to dinner with the guys.
“And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” (Matthew 17:8)
After dinner and a little rest, we joined the monks for evening vespers. Guess what Scripture they were singing and reading for their vespers? You got it. Exactly what I had read and journaled about that afternoon–out of all the verses in the Bible? What are the chances? “Coincidence?”
The Lord has a great sense of humor, and He likes to be intimate with His sons.
Among many other things, Ryan heard this, “Relax. Relax.” And later this passage in Eph. 3, saying we are His sons, we should act like it, and believe He will empower us:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21)
Brian heard among many other things, what the Lord said to Peter after he began to sink at the end of his water walking encounter with Jesus:
“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”” (Matthew 14:31, NASB95)
Again, you are My sons. I will empower you. Why do you doubt?
It seems like a good and valid question, when you’ve come aside and immersed yourself in the Word, focusing on the Lord, sort of like the guys at the transfiguration… they “saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” But in the world of business and education and life, the wind and the waves can easily get your attention and draw your gaze from the One Who saves.
I wish I could take credit for this outing to “come aside” but the young men I meet with on Thursday mornings to talk about spiritual things, and the Holy Spirit in particular, suggested it, and we put the date on the calendar a few weeks back.
I’ve been to Subiaco Abby serval times before and will be again, Lord willing. I think they’ll be back many times in their futures too. They seem greatly encouraged in what they heard and saw in the spirit during our twenty-four hour stay here. I know I was.
If we will take the time to come aside, rest and listen; perhaps God will take time to meet us and speak? A meaningful, healthy life in our day depends on such.
Remember what the flight attendant says before every airline flight, “In case of a rapid depressurization, put your own oxygen mask on first; then help those seated around you.”
His blessings as you seek Him, Dwayne
“And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” (Mark 6:31)
“and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:26–28)
Synchronicity: “the coincidental occurrence of events and especially psychic events (as similar thoughts in widely separated persons or a mental image of an unexpected event before it happens) that seem related but are not explained by conventional mechanisms of causality ….” Mirriam Webster, m-w.com [A few more photos here.]