While it might be a surprise to folks who mostly know me from my writing, I am not much of a talker. Really. Much to the consternation of my wife, all to many of my friends & colleagues who meet her seem to mention about how “quiet” and “reserved” I am. And it’s not that I try to be someone different in one venue vs. another. One problem is that I learned a long time ago that I am very smart (as book smarts go), and that the moment I start talking, I tend to sound like a know-it-all. And I don’t want to be “that guy”.

And so I play it quiet and reserved.

I think that it’s also because I tend to be socially awkward, and I fret an awful lot about saying the right things the wrong way, or the wrong things in the worst way – so I just play it quiet. And reserved.

Which is very similar to the way most people see my father – a doctor in a small farming/industrial town in Northern Indiana. He’s quiet. And reserved.

And I’ve heard it said that quite often, we tend to create a mental model of our Heavenly Father, who operates much in the same way as our earthly father. So it should be no surprise to you that when I see God, I see Him as somewhat quiet.

And reserved.

But realize as well, that this perception of God – or at least His Spirit – is not without precedent:

From I Kings 19:

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. [...]

He traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The LORD Appears to Elijah
And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Did you get that? God wasn’t in the powerful maelstrom, or the earthquake, or the fire. He was in the gentle whisper, in the silence after the fury.

Waking Up

Ever since I was young, I have always been a night owl. If left to my own devices, I’d stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. and get up around 7 or 8 o’clock. In fact, I’ve had long spells where I’ve done just that. While my wife wishes I could mirror her sleep pattern (asleep around 11, awake around 7), she’s been a real trooper with my insomniac life.

In 2006, I was blessed with the opportunity of taking a study tour of Israel and Southeast Turkey. We walked 4-5 miles each day, listened to multiple lectures, prayed, and (in my case) transcribed notes into the wee hours of the morning. But in Jerusalem, I had an odd experience.

Each night in our stay there, I found myself compelled into wakefulness around 3:30 in the morning. When I woke, it was like someone had been talking to me, but when I was fully awake, it was dead silence in the room. During those hours of wakefulness each night, I found myself being challenged in some different ways than normal, and made some important, internal life-changing decisions.

Can I say that I was hearing the Voice of God? No, not with certainty. But the time I was awake was unlike other times of prayer or crisis, and I couldn’t argue with the conclusions I was reaching – or the increased introspection that I’ve enjoyed in the years since then.

And then a couple of months ago, I purposely decided to start going to bed earlier, which meant that I’d be awake for awhile after my best friend fell asleep next to me, but that I’d probably be sawing logs before the new day arrived at midnight.

And it started happening again. Not every night (except for a single 10-day stretch), but quite often. Somewhere around 3:30, I’d find myself suddenly woken up, with no sound in the room, save my wife’s breathing and the faint sound of the dogs’ snoring off in the corner.

And during those times of silence, I’ve found myself challenged a few times – with some of the challenges as stark for me as I imagine Peter was challenged by his vision of the unclean animals. I find that I’m not content with where I am in my walk, but looking for where exactly to take it next. I find that, while I’ve been given some answers to tough, immediate issues, I’ve been asked more questions that challenge the Pharisee that still lives inside me.

I’d like to just chalk it up to insomnia … or indigestion … or maybe an early onset of seasonal depression. But maybe my denials don’t mean a whole lot. Maybe the maelstroms I see, the earthquakes I fret about, and the fires I try to put out are just a sideshow, and the voice I hear wakening me in the wee hours of the morning is trying to reach me in the way that best fits me – quiet. And reserved.

But opinionated as all get out.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 at 3:40 pm and is filed under Musings, Religion/Philosophy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

1 Comment so far

  1. Gaynor Lubojasky on January 31, 2011 4:22 am

    Love your site! Just heard about Fourth Watchman based on Matthew 14:25. Commentary: The fourth watch – Anciently the Jews divided the night into three watches, consisting of four hours each. The first watch is mentioned, Lamentations 2:19 : the second, Judges 7:19; and the third, Exodus 14:24; but a fourth watch is not mentioned in any part of the Old Testament. This division the Romans had introduced in Judea, as also the custom of dividing the day into twelve hours: see John 11:9.

    The first watch began at six o’clock in the evening, and continued till nine; the second began at nine, and continued till twelve; the third began at twelve, and continued till three next morning; and the fourth began at three, and continued till six. It was therefore between the hours of three and six in the morning that Jesus made his appearance to his disciples.

    You can go to the websites below for a description of what each “watch shift” means, with biblical references of what to pray for each time period. This might help you understand why you wake up at 3 AM and what you could pray for specifically.




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