A Shelter Day in the Ministry – Part 2
The following is from my “archives” and a great reminder of a timeless truth for leaders.
Taking It from the Top
Moody Monthly – January 1992 Dr. Wayne Hopkins
The ministry is work. Hard work! Any servant of God worth his salt, motivated by a sense of righteousness and eternity, painfully feels there is more to do than what he can accomplish. Hurting people in his ministry need him-because of marital problems, wayward children, and conflicts with relatives, neighbors, and folks at work and church.
Hence, time always seems in short supply for the urgent crises of counseling witnessing, preaching, Bible studies, and helping others. The staggering amount of abuse, adultery, bankruptcy, divorce, drunkenness, eating disorders, gambling, idolatry, and store housing drives the caring shepherd.
Not uncommonly the servant tastes the fatigue and desperate panic of an athlete in the Triathlon who discovers during the race additional miles and events are being added, pushing the finish line further away into the twilight.
The genius of a Shelter Day (S-Day)–where activity hatches are shut and bolted down, no matter how spiritual or alarming–is that it serves as a submerged day for rest and recharging. In addition to it being a study time, the S-Day is to be distinguished by stillness (Ps 46:10). It is not enough merely to stay home one day a week in seclusion; one cannot hopscotch around the house to the phone, computer, TV and refrigerator (Ex 14:10-18). Stillness requires staying fixed and focused mentally, and it excludes leapfrogging on ministry projects behind closed doors (Ps 37:7).
God’s “thoughts and ways” which are as high and different from mine as the heavens are above the earth (Isa 55:8,9), are not grasped by me in the midst of a cyclone, convulsions. or even a dull circus. The profound joy and peace–promised to me from another world (Isa 55:12)–as a result of entering God’s intimacy are not merely millennial blessings, tucked away for me for the future, in the meantime leaving me to grunt, gnash, and gnaw on my own (Isa 28:12,13). God orders me to abandon now my “evil thoughts and ways” (Isa 55:7-13) and ponder His thoughts and ways.
Before the S-Day can produce “strength and a rescue” for me, it must be furrowed with “rest and quietness” (Isa 30:15). A modern “can-do” American, especially the guilt-driven Kingdom worker, finds it virtually impossible to turn off the power drive and park for 24 hours.
Both a physical and mental idle is mandatory, if I am going to benefit reflectively from God’s presence with me (Ps 116:7; Zech 2:13). A throttled-down, unflapped composure by me is that steady state needed to refuel in mid-flight. True poise, which allows insight and refreshment from the sphere above, gushes to a calm, unruffled soul below, content to wait for Him no matter how long it takes (Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7).
David’s other-world contemplations and psalms flushed earthward while he sat or lay motionless and hushed (Ps 4:4; 16:78; 42:1-43:5). Songs bubbled up and over, springing from deep wells within, only in a long lull which followed a storm. Job, likewise, made absolutely no progress in penetrating the mystery of his afflictions until he and his friends stopped their flap and fury allowing God to interrupt with facts (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6).
Like rain and snow cycling from heaven to earth then back, according to Isaiah 55:10, 11, the Word of the Lord spreads throughout the land to accomplish that which He intends. The soil, nourished like my soul, then yields its “seeds for the sower and bread for the hungry.” Patiently and majestically nature waits–as anyone knows who has stood in the middle of a meadow or deep in the woods–for the moisture of the rain and snow. Comparable, the nurture of wisdom and grace, derived from perceiving God’s thoughts and ways, arrives fruitfully in season to those who wait (1 Sam 12:16). Heaven never makes the fields and valleys fertile because they “spin or toil” (Mt 6:19-34; cf. 4:4). They must wait.
For my soul to be restored, God leads me by the still waters (Ps 23:2). For me to drink, I must cease my bank-side romp and ruckus and lie in green pastures. For I process truth about God only in a balmy, soft, and soothing setting, not in a brouhaha, by a boombox, or amid baubles. In praise, singing and celebrations, with bands and voices, I communicate with God. In the still and quiet, God communicates with me…
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?