From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (CEB)
Over the course of the past several months, God and I have been doing a lot of soul searching. Well, God has been searching my soul and revealing things to me. It has slowly dawned on me that my life has become too loud–to frenetic. I’m too tied to the immediate–immediate communication, immediate news, immediate reaction. And over all of the “urgency of now” I hear God whispering…slow down…be still…stay present in my presence…
2016 has been a tumultuous year. Like most everyone, we have had times of both celebration and mourning; times of hope and times of anxiety. We have held onto faith and questioned faith; walked among the mountaintops and wandered in the desert. This is the natural course of life–up, down; around and around. And yet, I find that too much of my time and energy is being spent reacting to life’s ups and downs and not enough time spent in waiting on, watching for and walking with God.
God created human beings with the ability to think and reason, but it seems like there’s a lot less of that going on in our world right now. We live in an age of impulsivity, where thoughts and opinions are immediately shared without any real consideration for their impact or legitimacy. Our focus on materialism and consumerism has led to an increase in the need for immediate gratification.
The problem is, the focus on immediacy takes away from our focus on God’s bigger plan. While we focus on the immediate, God focuses on the eternal. And that eternal is something we cannot yet see. However, I believe that we can see God more clearly when we are still, when we are actively waiting, watching and walking with God.
My goal for 2017 is to spend some quality time in the desert. Like the ancient church fathers, I want to leave behind the immediacy of life and spend some time in deep contemplation. I want to ask hard questions and wrestle with complex answers. I want to engage in conversations that stretch my knowledge and expand my boundaries of understanding. I want to study the changes in the lake right outside my back door though every season of the year, marveling in God’s ability to create and sustain. I want to build relationships that are miles long and fathoms deep. And finally, I want to cultivate a life lived in peace.
I’ve crafted a basic plan for delving into the reflective process this year. First, I will read more poetry. Poetry is thoughtful, both in form and function and easily lends itself to reflection. I’m also engaging in a Facebook Fast. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but the overarching goal is to spend less time connecting online and more time connecting IRL. And, as always, I will continue to work to deepen my walk with God through the reading of Scripture and writing.
I’m praying that each of you will experience God in a powerful and profound way this year.
Blessings and Peace,