[I covet your prayers as I will be away on Sabbatical for the next few weeks. While I am taking some extended time to rest, be with family & friends and connect with God, I hope you enjoy these blog posts that appeared on my blog in 2008.]
This weekend I realized that I haven’t been very present with the Lord. Even the beep became “normalized,” and I got so cranked up and busy that I gave the Lord more of a “head-nod” than an ear. I started to feel that wax-buildup in the spiritual ears. This is pretty common, and I’ve found only one thing that helps me—get alone with God and be still. I’ve developed an acquired taste over the years for these solitude times, because I’m an activist, Type-A (on steroids) by nature.
At first, I felt so guilty and unproductive just “doing nothing” but wasting time with the Lord. It felt like nothing was happening except that precious time was passing. But I have to tell you, I’ve been amazed at how replenishing and enjoyable these times of getting away to be alone with God have become. Now I find myself saying, “Oh Lord, where did the time go, I don’t want to leave.” And afterwards, my sense of His ever-present-ness remains much clearer throughout the following days.
The past three days, I got on my mountain bike and went out to “my place” for about an hour or so. It’s a place I’ve been going now for about 10 years where I park my bike, and either sit on a rock and look out over the hill country while I talk to God, or I hike as I talk and listen. When my mind is moving so fast I can’t slow down the gears, I’ll walk and talk with the Lord before I try to sit still and listen. Somehow walking focuses my mind and frees it from other worries so that I can better listen quietly.
Dallas Willard (probably my favorite living author) says that solitude is the single most important spiritual practice needed in our frenetic age. I’m now convinced from experience of this truth. At first, I did solitude more as a discipline because it didn’t replenish me. The main reason it failed to replenish me is that I didn’t know how to slow down long enough to hear in my spirit the Lord’s quiet, calming voice. I needed enough time practicing this and pushing against the fearful resistance that yelled, “You’re wasting time you loser—this isn’t doing anything—do something so you’ll be somebody.” But that lie was what God needed to push out of my life. I needed to deeply hear that “You’re somebody because you’re connected to Me—apart from Me, you’re nothing,” but He couldn’t remove the lie until I pushed against it in solitude long enough to hear the truth. We all have lies and junk that God wants to show us (which is why some of us run from solitude—we don’t want to face those old coping mechanisms that became a comfortable false sense of security).
I’ve already seen an improvement in my consciousness of God’s presence and activity throughout the day today, and it feels like getting little glimpses into what heaven will be like. It changes the way I experience moments with my kids so that each moment becomes sacred and full of life (you know those moments you wish you could freeze and live in forever?), and it changes the way I deal with stress-potential challenges or deadlines that fly at me most days.
I just wish I could remember how good it gets when I get cranked up and disconnected and then believe that lie that says, “You don’t have time for solitude.”