I love the quietness of the evening, after the kids are tucked in bed and sound asleep. It’s hard to imagine Edric and I have four of them when it is this still. Stillness is so important to me. The responsibility of child-rearing, homeschooling, ministry, work (when Edric needs me), and various commitments to family and friends can often cannibalize whatever space should be preserved for pause and meditation.
These past few weeks, Edric and I have been unusually busy. Because of this, our time in the Word and prayer has been rushed or neglected. And the irony is, we have been doing a whole lot of ministry. One weekend was a couples retreat, the next was a parenting seminar for young families, and Edric spoke two weekends in a row for worship in various places. In between there were things like counseling, activities and new enrichment classes for the children, Elijah’s end year assessment and Edan’s graduation, parties we had to attend, evenings out for necessary meetings, sick kids, out of town trips, planning for the Global Home Education Conference in Berlin, booking our Europe itinerary, dealing with some challenges in our discipleship group, schedule changes and added responsibilities, etc…Of course, my homeschooling schedule was crazy, too. I missed a couple of days here and there.
Most of these experiences have been incredible blessings and God has allowed Edric and I to learn how to manage stress and flurry better. But circumstances and busy-ness also made Edric and I vulnerable to spiritual attack. All the ministry work turned us into a beeping signal on the radar of the Evil one. He constantly tried to divide us and cause dissension. Edric and I were getting irritated at one another for silly things and we became such nit-pickers. Since schedules were kind of hectic, there was hardly any time to get together and address the issues. We were living from one spiritual high to another, but our responses to issues between us seemed infantile. I would make hurtful comments when I was upset and Edric expected me to adjust to his needs and demanding circumstances without giving much thought to my own feelings.
But God, in his faithfulness, reminded both of us that we were focusing on each other and circumstances. We were not focusing on him. We were not making enough time for him. When Edric was preparing for last Sunday’s message on the topic, “Selah. Regularly,” he shared with me his renewed conviction to take a pause from all the activity and pay attention to God. I thought it was such a timely insight and I needed to practice immediately.
Well, lo and behold, last Saturday, God gave me the opportunity to apply the message. I had to call a company that does home service lab work. My grandfather (Angkong) is 93 years old and lately, his blood pressure has been low. So he needed some tests to be done. I tried to contact the company atleast 5 times without success. Every time I would call, I would be put on hold then re-routed to a basement storage area where the guy would say, “Ay, ma’m basement to. Tawag ka na lang sa tamang number.”
After this happened a multiple number of times, I told him that I had been put on hold and connected to him, even after he gave me the supposed right number to call. My tone was starting to change. I increased the volume for emphasis. Inside I was soooo annoyed. I wanted to pick a fight with mister basement guy even if he could do nothing to solve my problem. I didn’t care about the futility of doing so. But God reminded me, at the height of my aggravation, that I had not stopped to pray and ask for his help. Selah. Pause. Listen. So I hit myself on the head five times with a book to keep myself from getting angry. (It was a paperback!) Then, I hung up courteously.
The verse that was very clear in my mind was, for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. (James 1:20 NASB) So timely, Lord! I composed myself, called the company again and got through. That was a Selah experience for me. God spared me from losing my temper but it was a close call!
If I had not taken a pause to listen to the Lord, I would have blown up on the phone. I felt the heat rising. I was charged with irritation. There was nothing I wanted to do more than blast out insults and criticism for this company’s customer service. (At the same time, I also thought…this must be what people feel like when they try to call our organization and can’t get through! It is infuriating!) Well, what saved me was the gentle voice of the Lord reminding me to be Christ-like, to respond with grace to an unfavorable and inconvenient situation, and to be humble and kind even if I was upset.
The gist of Edric’s Sunday message was, PAUSE. PAY ATTENTION. In the midst of flurry and busy-ness, in the midst of stress and situations beyond our control, we need to take an intentional pause to consider who God is and what character trait he wants us to develop. Paying attention to who God is reminds us that he is the sovereign orchestrator of circumstances. He wants us to discover and experience how amazing he is and change what is wrong about ourselves so we can live the abundant life he calls us to.
If you would like to watch the message and Elijah’s testimony, check out Selah. Our nine year old son, Elijah, also gave his testimony that day.