I’m currently with my family on a vacation, enjoying some downtime. I find that I can chose how restful this vacation is or I can be stressed out about how much work I’m missing, checking my emails all the time, writing blogs, etc. Vacate means to leave the premise or to check out.
I think it’s good for all of us to occasionally leave the premise & check out for our own mental health, for the purpose of enjoying family & to give God the opportunity to engage with us with less competition for our attention. Celebrate the opportunities that God gives us for vacations, rest & pause 🙂
I often find myself in the predicament of needing more time & less work. Deadlines, responsibilities, demands, schedules, timelines and the like seem to eat into the 24 hours in each day with nibbles, bites and giant chomps. I used to think that God messed up with the 24 hour thing until I read in Genesis 1:31 about how God said that everything He made (including time) was very good. So here are some helpful thoughts about time being very good:
time is our daily reminder that while we are limited & finite, God is not & God knows the beginning from the end
time helps us to get things done – sometimes pressure is good
there are many people in the Bible who only grew into their destiny because time was an essential ingredient: Joseph, Moses, David, Jacob, Hannah & lots more 🙂
time is an integral part of what God established with the whole Sabbath rest principle
Do you have some situations in your life that seem to be unfinished? Take a minute to consider that the day between Good Friday & Easter (today) seems to often get overlooked in light of the events on the adjacent days. But this middle day is necessary & very frequently where many of us live at various times & in various situations. If we think about it, beginnings and endings seem to get lots of attention, but the middle is the bridge & continuity between the beginning & the end. Here are a few things to help you manage the middle:
Rest: sometimes the middle is about taking a pause – when Jesus was in the tomb on Sat, His disciples had the Sabbath, which was a day of rest & pause;
Trust: it’s important to agree that God gives us what we need when we need it, including the middle season; when Jesus rose from the dead, there was a TREMENDOUS amount of activity so the Saturday pause was essential
Be present on this day: I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus’ disciples were 100% traumatized by what happened on Good Friday & were most likely totally consumed with what had just happened (yesterday) or what was going to happen (tomorrow)
Faith: Jesus told His disciples many times that He would raise from the dead after 3 days; God’s promises are solid and reliable
I wanted to write up a quick post yesterday but I had more work than time – sorry!
I’m particularly fond of the few days immediately following Christmas because they feel like an exhale to me. The days leading up to Christmas can sometimes be a frenzied collection of meal preparation, last minute wrapping, gifts, holiday bustle and manic hustle. But the days after Christmas seem to be more peaceful to me. Everything seems to get more calm, peaceful and manageable. Let me encourage you to take some time in these days to pause, reflect and rejuvenate. Drink deeply of God’s presence and nestle into God’s unlimited love for you. Jesus was born for us out of no other motivation than genuine love 🙂
On a quickie side note, please remember to pray for South Sudan – they’ve had close to 2 weeks of intense conflict and thousands have been killed there in the last 10 days.
I was having a nice conversation with a friend & we were talking about how much we enjoy our daily prayer times with God. She said something that stuck with me in a funny way. She said, “I wish I didn’t have to leave God’s sweet presence when I have to move into the day’s activities & demands.” It was an interesting comment that has lingered in my mind for more than a year. When she first said this, I readily agreed with her with sadness. But after thinking about this for a few weeks, I started to consider that if God is everywhere at all times, then we never leave God’s presence.
Perhaps we get to discover God’s presence in different contexts: busy, still, anxious, peaceful, uncertain, stable, clear, restless, hopeful, discouraged, hurt, loved, weakness, strength, joy, pain, . . . . . Maybe we are learning to sense God in lots of different ways & contexts not only in the normal & expected ways 🙂
From time to time, I think it’s important to do some assessment & personal inventory. We tend to do these kinds of exercises at the end of the year in anticipation of some possible New Years resolutions that we might consider. But I think that doing an occasional personal assessment is really healthy. So here are some questions & things to consider:
*What are 3-5 things that would be my top essentials?
*What are the consistent inputs that I have in my life? What do I watch, read, listen to, friend conversations, etc?
*Are these inputs what I need to constructively support the 3-5 essentials that I identified above?
*What top 3 areas in my life need more work, attention & help?
*Am I doing things that I could eliminate?
*Most importantly, how does my daily living align with my personal relationship w God? What adjustments do I need to make?
Have you ever struggled to pray because of various distractions? This morning happened to be one of those times for me & that can be really frustrating because if you’re like me, you really want to pray! So perhaps I can give you a few ideas that could be helpful:
tell God that you’re having a hard time praying because of the various distractions. I say something like this, “God, I really want to pray right now, but I’m having a hard time because I find myself to be distracted with all kinds of things, some things important & some things not so much.”
sometimes I will write down what those distractions are – maybe making a to-do list, or briefly writing out the various things about which I’m concerned
take a pause and listen / wait – often after I do the first 2 things above, it gets easier for me to pray, listen and to be more present with God than the various distractions
don’t get way frustrated with yourself – commit to have some prayer time in your life everyday so that on those few days that seem to filled with distractions, you can be certain that there will also be some totally amazing times with God that will be nothing short of glorious – all realtionships can have some ups & downs
sometimes it helps me to review a verse or passage from the Bible that has seemed to really capture my attention & thoughts – in these times, I give myself to exploring this verse or passage with God & I find these times to be particularly rich with God’s presence
Have you ever felt like you’re in a holding pattern? Sometimes, it seems like God has me in pause mode & I’m continuing to try & faithfully do what’s been given to me, but it’s like I’m on hold. When I’ve been on airplanes that have been in holding patterns it’s usually for a few reasons:
bad weather could make the landing dangerous – preventing danger
our timing for landing was off schedule & we have to wait for our turn – timing alignment
the land crew isn’t quite ready for our arrival – proper preparation to prevent a mishap
If you’re in a holding pattern season, getting impatient usually doesn’t help but using the time to nestle into a deeper walk with God is always a great plan regardless of whatever season in which you find yourself 🙂
When I was growing up, we used the Big Chief red note pads to learn how to write. I still remember that dingy paper & the giant lines in which I was supposed to keep my writing (good luck). When I started using the regular white lined paper, I remember thinking that it seemed like they wasted alot of space on the sides because the Big Chief paper didn’t have the red line on the left – margin. As I continued to refine my writing skills, I started writing smaller & smaller so that I could get more stuff on the page – at one point, my teacher probably needed a microscope to read my writing.
So here are some thoughts on space & time:
margins create clarity – when we try to squeeze everything into a small space or time, everything can get blurry and confusing really fast
while we are designed to be productive and to achieve things, it’s important to maintain balance between workload and breathing room
We had a very beautiful snow storm yesterday, even though it was treacherous with driving. Instead of going to the gym & working out, I decided to take a walk in the snow through some woods. It was a very soothing walk. In the woods, it was quiet & very still, but along the shoveled path, it was windy, icy & not as enjoyable. I was thinking about the trees and how they spend half of their time getting dressed, putting on leaves & half of their time getting undressed, shedding their leaves.
Sometimes I think we chose paths that seem smooth based on what we can see & feel but sometimes this choice prevents us from experiences with God that can be really rich for our hearts. These are just a few thoughts from my snowy walk in the woods 🙂