Aug 27, 2015   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

One of the first things that surprised me about the Doctor of Ministry cohort that I belong to was one of our first “in-class” assignments. We were to find a secluded place, preferable in nature somewhere. We would start off by taking a walk. Then find a place to sit (I took a blanket) and just be silent. If we fell asleep, that was fine. After about half an hour, we were to just spend time reading Scripture, followed by journaling. We could then read from a devotional book of some sort, the kind of book that speaks to your experience as a child of God (as opposed to a book on leadership or mission, or any other “how-to” books in Christian circles). Then we’d finish with silence again, and walk out of wherever we went. It was a miniature spiritual retreat.

I was very refreshed and blessed by this. I spent my time back in the woods away near Ponce Deleon Springs, not far outside Orlando. The blessing of time with God was powerful, meaningful, and badly needed. Honestly, I should do that a lot more often. I guess the question I am having today is, Am I satisfied with that blessing?

Numbers 6 is about Nazarite vows and the Aaronic blessing. The vows were to be a time of especially intense consecration to God, when the one taking them was more intentionally set apart for Him than usual. If you took the vow, you took it for a set period of time. You shaved your head. You weren’t supposed to drink anything intoxicating or even eat anything from the vine–no grapes, raisins, seeds, etc. You weren’t to go near a corpse. If someone died suddenly in your presence, you took a sacrifice to The Dwelling (Sanctuary), shaved  your head again, and started over. When it was done, you went in, shaved your head, the hair was burned, you made a sacrifice offering, and were free to go back to your normal, set-apart life.

After this, the chapter speaks of the Aaronic blessing. Here’s how The Message puts it:
“God bless you and keep you,
God smile on you and gift you,
God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”
This would place God’s Name on His people. He would come near to them and bless them with His prosperity.

As their history unfolded, it’s clear that the people weren’t satisfied with that blessing. They wanted a king. They split up. They wanted to worship other gods. One guy named Samson had that same Nazarite vow for life, but he broke pretty much every one of the guidelines for it (and we don’t see any record of his going to the Sanctuary to make amends for that).

Are you satisfied? Satisfied with the blessings that God gives you? With the results of spending special, set-apart time with God (if you’ve done that before)?

Our national debt is ridiculous. Forget that, I got myself into enough personal debt that I should forgo pointing my finger at the country! Plenty of people cheat on their spouses. Plenty of workers will step all over one another for a raise or a promotion.

We are a nation of profoundly unsatisfied people.

To respond to this, personally (realizing we can’t cure that illness for anyone but ourselves), I suggest asking yourself a few questions.

  1. When is a time that I can be especially consecrated? To retreat to God? I’m not suggesting a Nazarite vow, per se, but a period of time you can get away from distractions and take a retreat with God. I might suggest just going with simple foods, spiritually uplifting music (although iStuff is pretty distracting, so be careful with this one), a Bible, a journal, and a book that can help you grow spiritually.Surrender to Love, by David G. Benner is pretty good, or Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, by Ellen White. I like Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli too.
  2. Am I satisfied with God’s blessings and God’s prosperity in my life? Maybe He’s gifted you. Maybe He’s smiling on you. Maybe you only have some time with Him. Maybe you have a family, a marriage. Maybe you have a calling. Are you satisfied with these gifts, or are you constantly craving more? Debt, lust, checking out instead of engaging the kids, laziness, pining for a different job… all may be symptomatic of dissatisfaction. Why not take a moment to take stock of the blessings God has given you and ask Him to help you be satisfied?

“God bless you and keep you,

God smile on you and gift you,
God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”

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