1 Peter 4:12-14
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
The story is told of a learned professor who went to visit an old monk who was famous for his wisdom. The monk graciously welcomed him into his temple and offered him a seat on a cushion. No sooner had the professor sat down that he launched into the long, wordy account of his own accomplishments, his own knowledge, his own theories and opinions. The monk listened quietly for a while and then asked politely, “would you like some tea?”
The professor nodded, smiled, and kept right on talking. The monk handed him a teacup and began pouring tea from a large pot. The tea rose to the brim of the cup, but the monk kept pouring while the professor rambled on. Finally, the professor noticed what was going on, leaped to his feet and demanded, “what are you doing? Can’t you see that the cup is overflowing?”
To this the monk simply replied, “This cup is like you mind. It can’t take in anything new because it is already full.”
Eventually, when we stop the flow of our own words, another gift comes to us, quietly and imperceptibly at first: we find ourselves resting in prayer.
–Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton, ch. 4, Prayer, p. 69
How often do we find ourselves rambling on? We come to God with our “heart in our hands”, and yet we keep our fists clamped tight to that heart as we spout all of the words that we feel must be said.
Yet what does the Bible say? “Come to me…rest”. There is nothing so profound as a moment of silence in a speech.
My debate coach once told us, that the most powerful tactic to use when people stopped paying attention is,
The momentary break brings a swift and immediate effect of focusing attention. When I pause in a sentence, people look up from their phones.
When I stop in the middle of a sentence and lower my voice, the audience leans in to hear what you will say next.
Isn’t that fascinating? Our brains are wired to pay attention when something goes missing. We stop, we refocus, we lean in. That is exactly what God asks us to do. Have you considered the possibility, that when God isn’t speaking, its not that He has given up, but rather that He is waiting for you to lean in to hear what He is saying?
Just think about it. There is a type of tree that grows far up in mountains. It is called the Jack Pine. The funny thing about the trees pine cones is that, they never seem to open. No amount of time, wind, snow, or storm will budge this cone to move or open its shell to release its seeds. On the outside the cone is as hard as a rock, and even penetration and forcibly opening the cone will amount to nothing. If the cone is broken (which is unlikely considering its constitution) the seeds inside will not be ready to go or produce new trees.
How then, does the Jack Pine live?
It takes one of the most monstrous natural phenomena in our world to allow these cones to open.
In the midst of a natural forest fire, when grass, roots, trees, plants, and wildlife burn under the fiery smoke and ash, this is the womb in which the Jack Pine becomes mature. Not in the sunny meadows or happy, well watered days of the summer. No.
Only the fast moving, flaming destruction of a forest fire allows the cone to reach its full potential. Then, from among the ashes, the cone opens. Allowing new seeds to catch the wind, sail over the recently devastated forest, and become the new birth of Jack Pines.
This picture could not be more vivid and instructive to a Christians life. We are told to expect trials. Its not if persecution comes but when. When those fires rage, then is our full potential growing. A star seen by the sunlight is invisible. It is only wrapped in the dark recesses of night that the star reveals itself to bring hope to the lonely, peace to the turmoil, and direction to the lost sailors. Do not fear the destruction of the flames. For it is out of those ashes that new life rises.
Be blessed today.