It isn't the desert that frightens me but the crowd. The crowd has the power to sway, you see. The power to turn my heart and soul and mind and strength from His is not in the empty places but the filled to overflowing ones. The crowded-with-stuff moments, I mean. And the surrounded by people every second of every day, too. This is a spiritual truth I've been learning here in my own humble house with Christmas music playing and good work being done every day.
I'm an extrovert, an extravagant extrovert, to be frank. . A give me a good conversation and I'll live for a week on it, turn it over and over like I'm a cow in the field chewing my cud, keeping it for extra food just in case I need it later. I probably will. I probably will need it later. God probably will use that conversation in the quiet moments afterward to reveal Himself to me. And I need that like I need air. Yes, exactly that way.
Give me houseful of people doing work around me, asking decisions from me that done bring life, and I'll start to wither. Right there in my living room, I'll wither like I'm cut off from the vine. "Do you want that wall here or here?" "Come look at Grampie's ears, what do you think about them?" "Can I ask you a question about tile, glass, flooring, counter-tops, adult diapers, paint, baby wipes, rashes, gloves, organization, the schedule, his pills, when he should go to bed, plumbers, roofers, moss-removal, propane heating, a closing date, bank accounts..." It's endless, relentless arrows to peace.
Yes, that's it, arrows.
I know my life in the last decade has been a luxury. Many people wish they had such hours, but upon closer reflection admit they would be bored by such a quiet life. I know that such a surfeit of hours alone has been a true gift, so granted to teach me to dig into prayer and meditation on His Word. On Christ and Christ alone in the empty space of my living room.
Now I see those days in part as preparation for this season. For such days as these when we'd be swept into the crowd of ministry again in our own home. This isn't the first time we've lived so, it's merely the first time such ministry has involved so many others with us in our home doing it.
For this moment as I write, it's quiet in my house. And I think of what my busy life is teaching me today: we never know what our days are really teaching us. The crowd frightens me, even when the crowd is simply noise around me. But the truth is, there is ALWAYS noise. We live in a noisy world. That noise easily drowns out the still small ONE we must hear to find peace. The quiet One who reminds us, He is here, the baby's cry which says, I am the One. I AM. He comes to bring life even into our noise. Even into our crowd, even into the kind of decisions that don't bring anything but more diapers or a taller counter-top. He comes. He is here. It's Advent and He comes.