Ten minutes at a time

Saturday, May 20, 2023

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Ten minutes at a time

Paul left Antioch and traveled in orderly sequence through the Galatian country.

Ah! For a little while Paul was not being whipped and stoned! His perseverance was paying off. For now, he lived an orderly life.

A Jew named Apollos arrived in Ephesus. He was an authority on the Scriptures.

How did Paul take to this man Apollos? Born in Alexandria and perhaps a frequent visitor to the great library there, student of the Scriptures and full of the words of God, a fervent preacher, did they circle each other carefully or embrace one another?

Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos, then they took him aside and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.

Ego matters, and big egos matter more. Will they get in the way of God? I take it that Apollos was wise, learned, and teachable. A wonderful trinity. And when Apollos and Paul met and prayed together, did they stay together? Thinking back, they may have known that Jesus and John the Baptist did not. Was this God’s way or did their egos struggle against each other?

There is no mention of their relationship in Acts, but they were colleagues. Paul praises Apollos in the context of God’s sovereignty in his first letter to the Corinthians:

What after all is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants as the Lord has assigned each to his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

Making it my ambition to live a quiet life, sometimes working with my hands (1 Thessalonians 4), I wonder what it would be like to be a mover and a shaker. Paul did both, and presumably Apollos did as well. How did they do it? Henri Nouwen was much more like them, a mover and shaker. He thinks about his own way to be “big” and “small,” to be God’s created instrument and to be God’s kid, both-and, every day:

Listen to your heart. It’s there that Jesus speaks most intimately to you. Praying is first and foremost listening to Jesus who dwells in the very depths of your heart. He doesn’t shout. He doesn’t thrust himself upon you. His voice is an unassuming voice, very nearly a whisper, the voice of a gentle love. Whatever you do with your life, go on listening to the voice of Jesus in your heart. This listening must be an active and very attentive listening, for in our restless and noisy world God’s so loving voice is easily drowned out. You need to set aside some time every day for this active listening to God if only for ten minutes. Ten minutes each day for Jesus alone can bring about a radical change in your life.

 You’ll find it isn’t easy to be still for ten minutes at a time. You’ll discover straightaway that many other voices, voices that are very noisy and distracting, voices that do not come from God, demand your attention. But if you stick to your daily prayer time, then slowly but surely you’ll come to hear the gentle voice of love and will long more and more to listen to it.

John talked about Jesus: “He must increase, and I must decrease.” I want to learn the art of decreasing, as my body calls me out. Rejuvenation takes longer. I don’t remember the words I’m looking for. Some days are better than others.

I sense that none of this matters much. The “ten minutes” Henri describes matters a lot. Day by day.

O dear Lord, these things I pray.

To see thee more clearly, to love thee more dearly, to follow thee more nearly.

I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father.

 (Acts 18, Psalm 47, John 16)

(posted at www.davesandel.net)


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