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  • Edwin Shank

The Quiet Time that Wasn't

Photograph of the "bird sanctuary" where this analogy began.

The Quiet Time that Wasn't

During my devotional time this morning, I was impressed with a thought. And no, it was not a thought from the Word even though I was reading the Bible.

I know this may sound sort of bad. Like, “If you were reading the Word, your inspiration should have come from there, right?”

Yes, but please hear me out. I do think spiritual truths comes to us in the form of analogies observed in everyday surrounding too. And that is ok as long as the everyday observations and illustrations do not contradict the Word.

So back to my story...

Out behind our farmhouse, alongside the dry cow pasture we have a place which our family for generations has affectionately called 'the bird sanctuary.'

My parents created this special place when my sisters and I were only children. They planted a variety of trees, shrubs, flowers, bushes and grasses specifically for the birds and bees and beauty.

Three years ago, for Dawn's 50th birthday, the boys and I added to this special sanctuary with 14 Norway Spruces arranged in a huge circle with a stone campfire ring in the center. Tucked among the Spruces we added an east facing arbor trellis with a swing for two.

It was to this secluded spot that I went this dewy morning with my coffee and my Bible for some sunrise meditation. From my description, you can be forgiven if you imagined an idyllic place of quiet stillness. But my description misses a detail.

The interstate.

Sadly, our farm is not far from Interstate 81. A spot that could or even should have an air of heavenly stillness is invaded with the incessant earthly roar of high-speed traffic.

I sat in the soft sunrise while the very air pulsed with road roar. I was reading the scripture, immersed in the noise yet unconscious of it, lost in quiet thought and meditation on timeless truths of peace.

Suddenly it occurred to me that the incongruity of my setting is deeply symbolic.

There is peace and there is disturbance in our world. There is love and there is hate. There is faith and there is fear. There is good and there is evil. There is truth and there are lies.

These are all real.

There is a kingdom of light and there is a kingdom of darkness. There is the power of life and there is the power of death. There is the path of the just and there is the path of the unjust. There is The Kingdom of God and The Kingdom of this world.

There is righteousness and there is sin. There is true love and there is lust. There is Godlikeness and there is the devilish. There is faithfulness and there is unfaithfulness.

We each live with this mixture all around us and calling to us. Calling for our attention.

Is it possible to have peace, and quietness, satisfaction, meaning, joy, light and faithfulness in our lives and families with so much road noise of wrong roaring all around?

Yes, absolutely yes!

It's about our choice. Every day we choose our focus.

Whether our souls, our families and our communities are lifted up with peace, love, faith, and the righteousness of light and life, or, if we will be distracted and pulled down with the noisy powers of darkness depends on our focus. It depends on our choice. It depends on our allegiance. It depends where we put our trust. It depends where we go for our answers. It depends on what we tune our ears to.

The choice is up to each of us. It's like Joshua said* so many years ago, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

He is the Prince of Peace.

A few years ago, our congregation selected a Bible verse to display on the wall behind the pulpit at our church. This is the one we chose.

"Thou wilt keep him in Perfect Peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee

because he trusteth in Thee." ~ Isaiah 26:3

I've been impressed with this verse's timeless truth during many worship services. And I think it fits perfectly for today's meditation too. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings until the next time!

Your Mennonite Christian friend, ~ Edwin Shank

* “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth... serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” -Joshua 24:14-15

P.S. Please remember, if you have questions or would like to talk more on this or any subject, you can always reach me by replying to this email. I'm here for you. I'd be glad to help if I can in some way.


Song of the Week For maximum worship experience, read and contemplate on the lyrics while listening. Just let the message sink into your heart. Sing along if you wish. Remember... it's only the message of the words that feeds the soul! (Click on the title to hear the song. It may take a minute to open.)

Prince of Peace, control my will;

Bid this struggling heart be still:

Bid my fears and doubtings cease:

Hush my spirit into peace.

Thou hast bought me with Thy blood,

Opened wide the gate to God;

Peace I ask, but peace must be,

Lord, in being one with Thee.

May Thy will, not mine be done;

May Thy will and mine be one;

Chase these doubtings from my heart,

Now Thy Perfect Peace impart.

Savior, at Thy feet I fall,

Thou, my life, my God, my all;

Let Thy happy servant be

One forevermore with Thee.

Would you like to get free songs like this every morning? You can. Here's how. Dawn and I personally know a Mennonite bishop from a little congregation in Dublin Georgia. His name is Sim Yoder. Sim shares a new song every morning for the benefit of any and all who wish to listen, sing along and worship. He calls this ministry 'Morning Song.' The songs are always songs of God and faith, are often hymns and are always acapella with deeply meaningful, soul-feeding words. The songs are not always professional. They might be sung by a Mennonite family and recorded impromptu at a family gathering... But that is what makes them so authentic. It's what makes them a rare opportunity to listen in. Sometimes you can hear the voices of Dad and Mom and all the ranges of sweet immature voices of the children... just worshiping and praising God together. Below are three easy ways to receive 'Morning Song.'

WhatsApp: Simply send a WhatsApp message to Sim at 478-278-4646 asking to be on "Morning Song." CloudVeil / Telegram: Use this link to join the Morning Song Group: Or simply email: Put "Morning Song" in the subject line and Sim will understand to put you on the morning song email. And yes, I did personally check with Brother Sim before I posted this contact info. He assured me with pure southern hospitality that, "Of course all are welcome! I'll just be glad to bless and encourage more lives with song!" -----------------------------------------------------------------

P.S. Feel free to share our emails in any way you want. Food for the Soul posts are free for all. We do not copyright any of our material nor are we possessive of its use. Freely we have received so freely we give.


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