Last week I attended a silent retreat in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs. While I have experienced a number of occasions where I determined to be quiet before the Lord, I have never gone to a remote site and dedicated myself to solitude at this level of for this amount of time before. For those who know me, being quiet is not one of my natural gifts, especially when it comes to audible communication. It is also difficult for me to quiet my spirit.
In my last letter titled CROSShairs and CROSSroads, I wrote to you about the challenges and excitement we are experiencing in our ministry. It seems that we are having a greater ministry impact than ever in our history while experiencing some of our most challenging times financially. Because of this, I am making every attempt to go deeper with my Lord. I can honestly say that my commitment to getting up at 5:00 every day and spending at least 2-3 hours with Him has been incredible. But I still struggle to hear His voice and sense His presence.
With that said—enter the experience at the silent retreat. My long time friend and pastor, Bill Dodder and I arrived at the site the night before the actual retreat. The next morning, with some brief instruction from our host, we set out into the surrounding woods to spend some quiet time in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. For most of the morning I continued to experience difficulty quieting my spirit. I cried out to the Lord for just a small glimpse or sense of His presence. I tried to concentrate on hearing Him. NOTHING.
Then, nestled into a rock cliff I opened my bible and read, 1 Kings 3:7 (NIV), Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. From all we know about Solomon at the time of this writing he was NOT a little child. His age was probably between twenty and thirty. So, what was he saying? He was living out what Jesus i
s saying to all of us from Matthew 18:3.
Immediately after reading that verse I heard God whisper to me—Vinnie. I remember experiencing two profound thoughts—first I knew it was Him—and second—my dear mom calling me Vinnie when I was a little boy. As soon as I experienced these thoughts I began to weep. The Lord allowed me to instantly understand what He was trying to say—you need to approach Me as a child. Simple idea? Yes. Difficult? You bet.
We are living in a world where our level of sophistication and perceived knowledge carry more weight and value than our internal character. What Jesus is referring to in the beatitudes are typically not sought after in this world more enamored by form over substance. God is truly impressed by the simple. Why is it so hard for me to get this?
I remember weeping and crying out to God one day, I am so weary of not seeing your miracles. Many of you will remember this story from when Cindy was in the hospital and not expected to live. I no sooner got those words out of my mouth than He spoke. Vince, do you remember the other day when you entered that ICU—I remember this vividly—do you remember that Cindy was still in a coma and had not been awake in weeks? Remember when you came around that corner and you saw her face—her eyes popped open and she gazed at you and got that little smile on her face? Choking back the tears I said, yes Lord I do remember.
Then He said, Vince do you remember the other day when you went in to her room and she was completely limp—no ability to move a muscle? Remember when you put your finger into her closed hand and experienced that ever so gentle squeeze and you saw that little tear roll down her cheek? No longer able to control my own tears I said, yes Lord I do.
Well, He went on to remind me of a couple more occasions like these and then He paused—I think to give me time for what He was about to shout in my ear. He said, Vince, those are my miracles. And when you quit looking for Me in the sensational...you’ll find Me in the simple!
He wants us to look right in front of us—every day—every step-along-the-way for His purpose. He wants us to notice the small things that come our way like that person waiting on you at the restaurant that is not very friendly and consider how God might be viewing them. He wants us to see Him in ALL our circumstances—not just the big or grandiose ones. This idea was huge for me. He wants us to get up every morning asking Him to go before us and help us recognize what He may be doing.
So, what is the takeaway here? I am convinced that we need to understand and apply two very important ideas both surrounding the powerful concept of childlike simplicity. We need to approach Him with a humble and childlike mindset and then look for His response in the simple things that come our way every day.