by Chuck Gaines, TND volunteer
Most of the recipients of The Next Door’s online newsletter will not know who I am. And I am very comfortable with that because I will not know most of them either. That seems to be the common denominator in America these days: pretend to know more than you really do! Truth be told, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2018 and that was to learn something new every day, even if it is useless so I could keep up with most of America. Now I have let a few days slide, but I have learned something new most every day and as I anticipated, some of it is useless.
For example, I wanted to know why dogs turn in circles before lying down. And the only conclusion that satisfied me was they couldn’t turn in squares. I wanted to know why I couldn’t wear pants without an elastic waist. The only conclusion I discovered was that elastic waist pants are the greatest invention in the world and I am fortunate enough to have a closet full of this great invention! I am only assuming that I have only scratched the surface of useless information out there to be learned! But, I have discovered (again) some useful information that I have learned I don’t want to live without. For instance, taking my wife her first cup of coffee in bed every morning – or almost every morning. Nothing starts out the day like a cup of coffee with an apology (pay attention guys!). Not that I am in the doghouse a lot, but it never hurts to be proactive! I like to think this is building up a credit to be used in case of an emergency. I am always prepared!
But the greatest thing I have learned in 2018 is silence and solitude. I do not fare well being by myself for prolonged periods of time. But I needed to practice this spiritual discipline in order to see God. Now I didn’t think I was missing Him mind you. Being a pastor for 43 years one could think that pastors have 20/20 vision in the seeing God department! Nope—not even close! So the only free time in my schedule is between 3:00-5:30 in the morning! And the discovery (again) of the greatness of God and His love for His most prized creation has been filling during times of emptiness and fulfilling in times of loneliness. And that’s what I have learned: I must be empty and alone to have communion with Him. And I promise you that in my household, no one is up at this time of the morning!
You may think silence and solitude is a useless bit of information. Not for me…I have learned that I need Him especially during that time. I learned that I listen better then! Well what do you know-that’s another piece of useful information!