“One of the purposes of prison is to give the prisoner great quantities of time to spend with the Lord. If we were free, we would be quite distracted with the affairs of our life. But with little else vying for our attention, the prison becomes a time when we can establish an extraordinary connection with Jesus. If you’re in prison, dear reader, don’t be so distressed over your condition that you succumb to despair. Maximize this time—the Lord is waiting to reveal Himself to you in a most singular way.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers, Ch. 3
We are at that interesting stage in the lives of our vehicles where we say a prayer and hold our mouths just right when we crank ‘em up. And when they do crank, or get us from point A to point B successfully, we whisper a prayer of thanks.
My dear, sweet hubby drives a 1995 Toyota that currently has roughly 260,000 miles on it…give or take a couple. It has been Old Faithful, but it does make special noises and if you hit a pot hole just right, it sounds like the whole thing might just fall into pieces right there in the middle of the road.
For a few weeks, my hubby had noticed that occasionally it would not crank up right away. It got progressively and frustratingly worse and then became an almost daily occurrence, at which time, Hubs would already be running late for work and need to take my car, which is newer, but also has its own little set of special needs.
This summer, for a period of an entire week, my Hubs needed to drive my car to work while his was being repaired. So, I ended up at home for a solid week with the kids and had lots of time on my hands. It meant no carting my daughter to her friend’s house. No running out to do some activity or dashing off to run this or that errand. It required me (a not-so-great planner) to plan things like errands and grocery runs.
I like to think it was a form of captivity. It was inconvenient. I was not despairing. It was not the end of the world or some horrible trauma or some situation where I was desperately waiting on a word from God, but I was captive, nonetheless.
Can I just tell you what wonderful time I spent with the Lord that week? With nothing taking my attention—and me avoiding all household chores, of course!—I got up in the quiet of the morning and sent Hubby off to work, put on my tea kettle and gathered up my Bible and my journal and my favorite pen, and plopped myself down in my favorite chair. It was so lovely. I look back at my journal and study notes from that week and I love the sweetness of that time. The complete intentional focus. The closeness I felt to Him.
For that week of forced captivity in my home, it was Jesus and me (and teenagers who slept really late). No distractions pulling me away. It was beautiful and refreshing. And there were things He showed me that needed work—heart issues that had to do with humility and the words that I speak and meditating on His Word. Apparently, I needed a word and just didn’t know it!
It was Him reminding me, “I’m here, just waiting for you, each morning. Come visit with me and I will show you awesome things.” It was Him removing me from the dregs, as Sorge mentioned in Chapter 3 and as it is described in the book of Jeremiah; it was me being emptied from vessel to vessel.
Sorge describes in the book this process of winemaking where the dregs of the wine settle at the bottom of the vessel and then the winemaker has to pour the wine off into another vessel in order to separate it from the dregs—a necessary process if the wine is to taste good. Otherwise, the taste of the wine sitting with the dregs will change and become bitter. The same is true for us. From time to time, we must be separated from the dregs of our heart if we are to mature and avoid tasting bitter and displeasing to God.
In the past, I always aspired to having a daily quiet time, but fancied myself too busy, or not a morning person. Something else always seemed more pressing. But that week, I felt the blessing of carving out that time. Since my “week of captivity,” I have purposed each day to sit with the Lord, in my comfy chair. I have missed days, of course, because life happens. But when I don’t start my day off that way, I really miss it. I miss Him.
I think we all get stale from time to time. And we need these times of “captivity” so that the Lord can have our rapt attention. We need the periodic pouring out from vessel to vessel. We need to embrace captivity when it comes. We must allow ourselves to be held captive by Jesus, so He can create something beautiful in us.
“God is using your imprisonment to perfect the wine of your love and to prepare you for greater fruitfulness.” ~Bob Sorge, The Fire of Delayed Answers, Ch. 3
I am excited to be joining in on a weekly book discussion led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. Please visit them to see other posts in response to The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge, at Jason’s blog—Connecting to Impact, and Sarah’s blog—Living Between the Lines. And even if you are not reading the book, please feel free to jump into the discussion!