It has now been two months since my most recent IT consulting contract came to an end. Since then, I have been on an enforced vacation.
Well, of course it hasn’t all been vacation. There have been days that were almost entirely filled with activity related to my life as an IT professional – reading, emails, phone conversations, resume tweaking, setting up my new laptop to run Oracle. But those were brief bursts of activity in a time that has for the most part been very quiet and restful.
You’d think I ought to be worried about the lack of work. The reality is, for the most part I have been remarkably free from worry. In large measure this is because Marion and I have been down this road before. I’ve had several interruptions in work since I started doing IT contract work more than 13 years ago, and the Lord has never left us high and dry. So when He whispers into my spirit that I don’t need to worry, I can draw on a fund of experience to remind me that He is faithful.
That’s a good thing, but it’s not the only thing that the Lord has been speaking to me about these past few weeks.
Marion, Bethany and I returned from Minnesota a little over three weeks ago. Especially since then, I’ve sensed the Lord’s restraining hand, keeping me from becoming too active in chasing work or creating projects for myself. Yes, I’ve set goals and worked at them. In fact, I’ve completed a number of items on a to-do list that included the yard, the house, the cottage and the trailer. But the item on my to-do list that the Lord seems to keep highlighting, especially in the last couple of weeks, is the imperative of using this time to dig deeper in my relationship with Him.
A couple of weeks ago, Marion and I spent the better part of four days following a conference on the free IHOP-KC web stream. We were both fully convinced that we had been directed by the Spirit to set aside this block of time. It soon became apparent why this was so important. We were both deeply impacted by the worship and the powerful teaching. God was getting our attention. For me, I realize the time since then has been different. It is as if I were a little child again, and my Father had picked me up, gently but firmly, and set me down in a protected place, free from distractions, where I could focus on getting to know some aspects of His plans, His purposes and His nature that I needed to see in a fresh, more focussed way.
Last night at our life group meeting, Marion described how sometimes, when dealing with a three-year-old who is easily distracted or just not listening, you need to take her aside, cup her face in your hands, put her face right up against yours, and speak gently but firmly to be sure that you have her attention. I have the sense that this is how God has been dealing with me the past while. This time off work feels like the provision of God – a time set aside for me to refresh some old things and look at some things from a perspective that I hadn’t really considered before.
The Bible tells us that for those who have been actively resisting God, falling into his hands is a fearful thing. God is capable of being quite terrifying. John’s Revelation calls Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and he’s not a toothless, stuffed toy sort of lion. Like Aslan in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales, he’s a bit unpredictable and can be wild at times. But to those who have willingly placed themselves in His huge hands, His touch is amazingly kind and gentle.
Kindness is always Father’s preferred way of dealing with us. It’s how he treats everyone who is willingly responsive to Him. Yet even in the gentleness He is also very authoritative. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father, and my Lord Jesus, and the Spirit of Holiness, are so much bigger than I am. It brings deep peace to my soul every time He sovereignly reminds me of both His power and His mercy.
Although I don’t have a contract offer yet, in my spirit I sense that this quiet episode will soon be over, and that before long I will be back at work again. I want to retain the fruit that has come from this time that the Lord set apart for me. I am so glad that he has picked me up, set me down in a quiet place, and directed me to set aside distractions and seek His face. Lord, give me the grace to be faithful and to respond to you with my whole heart and life, in a way that is worthy of You and that causes my life to shine with more of Your glory.