Gandhi once said “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Increasing speed increases friction which increases noise. We live in a world that knows little about silence. We yearn in our souls for some rest but generally intentionally do little to combat noise, busyness and hurriedness of our lives.
How many of us do what Jesus did by “… often retreating to lonely to places to be alone and pray.” [Luk 5:16] The antidote to the noise in our lives is the spiritual practice of silence. Jesus made it a practice. Part of the reason for needing space from the noise of life is needing silence. Some part of our prayers needs to be listening to God. Satan will always be in the business of moving me away from the presence of God to a position of doing something better for God. Social science calls that behavior modification.
You will never have the same peace and wisdom that the song writer had of old unless you are willing to
experience God as your refuge and strength. That is the antidote to hurried, busy and noise of life. When you make space for God to minister to your soul, you will not fear even if the very mountains around you give way and fall into the sea. Being in the presence of God is a place of refreshment. Today, nations are in a uproar, kingdoms are falling. God says repeatedly “Come and see what I have done….” “Be still, and know that I am God.” Take some time to listen to your Creator speak to your soul. Read Psalm 46.
RESTART: Too hurried, too busy and too loud … these three are the greatest reasons we lack capacity to enjoy life with Jesus. So what are we to do about it?
Busyness. That is the by-word for our society. Too much is going on. The tragic thing is that busyness is often confused with productivity. The habit of being too busy often turns into a lifetime habit. Brennan Manning is right when he said “If Satan can’t make you evil, he’ll make you busy.”
Distraction creates busyness and is a great weapon of Satan. It is the easiest for him to use. For me and for most everyone that I meet, the cell phone is the biggest distraction and second to that is Facebook on the cell phone. The great deception over the last 50 plus years are all of the gadgets we accumulate because we buy into the bill of goods that this latest gadget will make our lives simpler. There is some truth to it but we allow the distraction.
It is not that the gadgets are bad, but that we allow them to complicate our lives. The antidote to busyness is the spiritual practice of simplicity. Simplicity is about losing weight … the weight of activity and distractions that waste our time. But it goes beyond that. Not only do we have to lose the weight of busyness but we can best do that by creating space for Jesus to be in our lives. In order to know what God wants from us we have to listen and then do what He says. But listening is an intentional activity that requires the listener to be available to the speaker. To be available takes time. If we are reading our Bible trying to listen to God but keep checking our cell phone for messages, FB entries and other assorted social media alerts, we are not really listening for God to speak to us.
We live in a world characterized by too fast, too much and too loud. These are the tools used by the enemy of God to destroy His creation and us in it.
Most of my life I have been chronically in a hurry. As I tried to climb the ladder to success, everything was about hurrying up and doing it faster. My behavior pattern was characterized by continual rushing and anxiety. I was in a constant state of overwhelming anxiousness and sense of urgency. It is almost like an addiction of Too Fast. My behavior pattern was dominated by a continual rushing from one thing to the next accompanied by anxiousness that I missed something. I felt like I never had enough time. Success, I thought, was performing tasks faster and faster. But all that did was create more and more frustration with each delay. My life was an unrelenting sense of urgency.
Dallas Willard said “If you want to sense Jesus’ guidance and experience His presence on a daily basis, you must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” In other words, slow down. Craig Knudsen says that the antidote to Too Fast [read being always in a hurry] is the spiritual practice of slowing down. A spiritual practice only happens as we take the time to develop it into a discipline. To develop a discipline we have to reduce the speed of our living and create space in our schedules for unrushed moments with God. Some have called this Quite Time. No matter what we call it, life with God, as with any relationship, requires time to build trust and openness. A good relationship requires times of sharing our hearts as well as times of listening to the Other. That only can happen through time.
On the appointed day that we meet God face to face, not once will God ask us how we did in our career. What He will ask is something like “What was your relationship like with my Son Jesus?” That is the hinge-pin to real lasting success. What will your answer be?
2016 is a gift of God. The world is in chaos but make no mistake, our Sovereign God has it under control. For sure, appearances may not be the reality. We live in a world that is desperate for solutions to problems. We in our individual lives are desperate for ‘fixes’ and sideline or even forget the counsel of God.
If 2016 is a gift of God, then what can I do in 2016 to experience His presence and grace? Three questions permeated my thoughts last year and I am going to continue to pursue them this year.
First, how do I better listen to God and do what He says?
Second, how do I better trust Him for protection and provision?
And third, how can I learn to better serve others by always doing what are best for them regardless of my own desires?
Those are the goals of my game plan. And it originates from a heavenly source.
God speaks to us clearly. We need to restart. Listen to what God says about restarting … and He never uses the word. “My child whom I love and have compassion for, take to heart what I’m telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to My world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding. That’s right—if you make Insight and not your insight a priority, and won’t take no for an answer, searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, believe Me, before you know it you will discern the reality of God and you’ll have come upon the Knowledge of God.” [Pro 2:1-5 Adapted from MSG]
“If you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always gotten.”
My word for 2016 is RESTART.
The whole Advent season including the New Year’s Celebration is all about restarts. Lots of things in life need restarts. My laptop this morning needed a restart. Relationships can dry out and need restarts. Restarting is a time to reflectively think how things are and then restart them with a different mind set. “If you always do what you have always done then you will always get what you have always gotten.” We cannot restart without letting go of the past. We need a restart because we tend to either grab things we should not have in our possession or hold on to something too tightly. Restarting may mean eating humble pie and asking forgiveness. Restarting may mean loving someone unlovable.
Looking back on this past Christmas holiday and thinking about the meaning of the Advent Season, I believe it is God’s offering all mankind a restart. The whole point of Jesus coming to live among us was to offer a restart. Just like the gifts at Christmas, restarts come in all sorts of size and shaped packages. In God’s eyes, Christmas is actually an all year event. His gift to us is always under the ‘tree’ for us to pick up and open. God’s restart gift has little to do with doing something different by opening a resolution and much to do with opening a relationship. No matter where you are God is there too. He is waiting with His gift. Jesus tells us to “Change our mind and the direction we are going, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” However, restart with God means that we need to do just one thing. There is only one thing separating us from God. Why not today restart with God, placing your trust, surrender and faith in Jesus. It will change your life and you do not have to contend with those pesky new years resolutions that mostly never work.