A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 1
The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.
Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – December 1991 Dr. Wayne Hopkins
I guess every warrior wrestles occasionally in his sleep. I certainly do! David did at times (Ps 6:6, 42:3 77:2).
The Bible suggests that sleep and dreams in the night, or the lack thereof, gauge how well I do in the day (Ecc 5:3, Is 29:7-8). Indeed, God desires me to have sweet dreams (Ps 4:8).
As the Searcher of all hearts and the Knower of all thoughts (2 Ch 32:31), however, He may grind on me at night in my sleep (Ps 17:3; Heb 4:12-13). He may prod me to cooperate; to do some soul-searching myself on a sleepless night, instead of turning to Sominex or a nightcap (Ps 4:4; 63:6).
Perhaps He seeks to fuss about something ajar or amok in my life (Job 33:14-18). God cradles some, others He clobbers or torments during the night (Isa 50:11). Sleep disorders for some, due to their lifestyle, are such that money, no matter what the amount, cannot buy them sleep (Ecc 5:12). Nightmares, sleepwalking, early arousals, or the like, may serve as a divine alarm, which produces a warning about a spiritual or emotional problem. The problem left unchecked could blaze into a multiple alarm, i.e., physical sickness (Ps 38-3-18). Merely turning off the buzzer is not the object; determining the cause and putting out the fire is.
It seems that God may resort to the night shift with me when He cannot get through on the day shift (Ps 25:8-9). Perhaps in the daytime I am too baffy, bawdy, or busy, but I must collapse or crash somewhere, someplace. Then, there He is (Ps 107:4-32; 139:1-12).
God’s preferred plan, I believe, is that I need one day each week for Him to punch me down, purge me out, patch me up, and mold me back, after six days of duking, drubbing and drifting (Ps 64:4). Fundamentally my soul craves solitude with Him for recuperation (Ps 55:4-8; 84:1-2). Now, a full day of retreat will not replace nor diminish time spent with God each day in prayer, meditation, and study. The Shelter Day is an addition. David, certainly an enterprising administrator, like Daniel, prayed three times a day (Ps 55:17).
But I need at least one major in-take period…; a time of seclusion (Mk 1:35; Heb 4:9); a time for replenishing me deepest wells. Hence, the S Day must be a quiet, study day.
The S Day is not the time for direct sermon or lesson preparation per se’, for that is work, draining the well. On the S Day the well is allowed to recharge. Later, when the well is brimful, sermon construction is quicker. Without the S Day, the well has little time to recover before the bucket bangs the bottom again, scooping up mud and mush…
…The S Day, to reload the heart and soul with premium gusto should be Word centered (Ps 119:92; Mt 4:4; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), in a cloistered haven. Here I suggest a simple, meditative reading first, then rereading the biblical text (Deut 17:18-20: Ezra 7:10). It is not unthinkable that, in this manner, the entire Bible could be read a half-dozen times each year.
Second, endeavor to outline. Outlining forces critical thinking as one seeks for the theme, message, and logical development of a paragraph, chapter, or book…
Third, study inductively. Original outlining requires it, of course. Collecting references and thoughts, too, (perhaps on 3×5 cards) on relevant topic helps. These topic headings are personal, arising out of one’s life, ministry, and interests…
…compile a growth log. Here one keeps notes and dates on fresh insights. This is not a diary or journal, but a record of added wisdom, jotted down not only on the S day, but as thoughts surface on any day.
Perhaps these S Day study-tips will allow one’s pool to be restocked and flooded with fresh, cool, and living waters from Jesus Christ Himself (Ps 19:7-11; 25:4-5)…
Hence, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in a sheltered place” (Ps 4:8).
Do you have your scheduled Shelter Day – a day of reflection, meditation on God and His Word, and study? It need not be weekly, but it does need to be regular. Is it on your calendar?