Friendship, listening, and empathy: A Prayer GuideTwo Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian LifeSabbath Keeping FastingA Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationPersonality Type in CongregationsPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: the lifeline of God’s voice through the Bible

Lynne Baab • Thursday April 30 2020

Spiritual diary of sheltering in place: the lifeline of God’s voice through the Bible

God spoke to me very clearly through scripture last week, and that wonderful (and challenging) moment got me thinking about how and when God has spoken to me very clearly and specifically through a passage in the Bible. The kind of directness and clarity I experienced last week has happened before – many times before – and I wish I could quantify it. An average of weekly? No, probably not that often, although at least weekly something from the Bible is helpful and relevant, and of course that is a form of God speaking to me.

I’m thinking of those direct and powerful moments of clarity and certainty. Have I experienced them monthly? Perhaps. I’m quite sure God has spoken to me clearly through scripture way more than once a year.

I want to encourage you to think about how and when God has spoken to you through the Bible in a vivid way that has brought both clarity and conviction. What kinds of things has God said to you over the years? Has God spoken that way during the pandemic? How have you responded to what you heard?

My moment happened when I was looking over the passages in the daily lectionary in preparation to write the Friday devotional for my church, Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle. God said, through one of the scripture passages for the day: “Trust me.” Here’s what I ended up writing and how I described God’s voice to me:

I have been surprised in this pandemic about the things that are easier than I anticipated (such as not driving!) and the things that are harder. One of the unexpected hard things has been ordering food online and giving grocery lists to amazing, kind friends who buy food for us. But I like to pick my own bananas! I like to wander around a grocery store looking at what’s fresh or on sale to help me think creatively about what to cook in the next few days. I know others don’t feel this way, but I can’t wait to get back into a grocery store to pick out food by myself.

Another challenge has been Sabbath days. I’ve been a faithful Sabbath keeper for four decades now. I’ve written a book, a Bible study guide, and lots of articles about keeping a Sabbath. I know how to do this! The joy of my Sabbath day is doing almost nothing except read. Now, in this pandemic, precious people I love want to skype or talk on the phone on my Sabbath day, and I don’t know how I want to handle it. Sure, I could say “no.” I know how to do that. I just don’t want to! My very talkative Sabbath days are tiring. In these weird times, even the things we normally do well can become challenging.

Imagine my amusement when one of the passages in the daily lectionary focuses on food in the wilderness on the Sabbath day. You remember the story. While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they were given manna each day. On the sixth day of the week, the day before the Sabbath, they were given twice as much, and it didn’t rot overnight. The passage from Exodus 16 opens with Moses speaking:

“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.

The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. . . .The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land. (Exodus 16:23-31, 35)

The passage spoke to me about God’s provision of food, a relevant topic for me, and God’s frustration when we don’t obey and trust, an equally relevant topic. In these challenging days, the simplicity of trust is very difficult, but it is our central calling as children of a God of abundance.

Loving God, you provide for us so generously. Help us to trust you in these difficult days. Help us to lean into your goodness. Help us accept your call to rest in you. Thank you for speaking to us through your Word and in the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Help us to listen to your voice and receive your gifts of guidance, strength, patience, and rest.

(Next week: the lifeline of separating thoughts from feelings. Illustration by Dave Baab, one of his many drawings of me on my Sabbath day because I’m holding so still. I love to get new subscribers. Sign up below if you’d like to receive and email when I post on this blog.)

The kindle edition of my book, Sabbath Keeping: Finding Freedom in the Rhythms of Rest, is now available for $3.99

Some articles I’ve written on Sabbath keeping:

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