Ordering Your Private World, Pt. 4

January 9, 2006

MacDonald continues to speak of the “life of the mind” and gives many helpful thoughts in cultivating it. He then proceeds to discuss the discipline of solitude and meditation. Meditation is a lost art among Christians because of its association with Eastern mysticism. We should not neglect the benefits that can be achieved by clearing our minds of distraction to focus on specific things. For the Christian, it can be any number of religious thoughts, such as an attribute of God.

MacDonald continues to share thoughts on meditation then moves to prayer and intercession. Finally, he closes the book with a discussion of Sabbath. He did not debate the theological aspects of Sabbath, but rather emphasized the necessity for rest. God certainly gave us the pattern of rest on one out of seven days of the week. Did God need to rest? Of course not, but His example surely shows us the importance of the principal.

There have certainly been times in my life when I did not want to rest, because there was so much to be done. I didn’t feel tired (yet), so why waste those hours when they could be so much more productive when applied to tasks that must be completed. I am wiser now. In fact, I am taking an extended Sabbath from the ministerial duties that I once occupied. After six years of vocational ministry, my wife and I have decided that it is time for a break. Although I do not use it as a justification (because I don’t need one), I like to show the parallel with Exodus 23:9-10,

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

Furthermore, since my secular job is in limbo, I am getting lots of Sabbath rest right now. I am trying to use this time to seek restoration, and to reorder my private world (hence, the reason I chose to reread this book).

The Epilogue in Ordering Your Private World is titled “The Spinning Wheel.” Incidentally enough, we gave my mother a spinning wheel for Christmas (its a long story…). I want to close with an extended quote from that text:

I think Gahndi’s spinning wheel was his center of gravity in life. It was the great leveler in his human experience. When he returned from the great public moments in his life, the spinning-wheel experience restored him to his proper sense of proportion, so that he was not falsely swelled with pride due to the cheers of the people…

The spinning wheel was always a reminder to Gahndi of who he was and what the practical things in life were all about. In engaging in this regular exercise, he was resisting all the forces of his public world that tried to distort who he knew himself to be.

Gahndi was by no menas a Christian, but what he was doing at the wheel is an indispensable lesson for any healthy Christian. For he shows us what every man or woman who wants to move in a public world without being pressed into its mold needs to do. We, too, need the spinning-wheel experience–the ordering of our private worlds so that they are constantly restructured in strength and vitality. (Gordon MacDonald, Ordering Your Private World, pg 186)


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