“Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter—the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self.”
~Henri Nouwen “The Way of the Heart”I thought this was going to be a different post. I was going to keep talking about concentric circles and how this helps us understand and order what we love.
But it sort of seemed out of place to keep going.
Because, the truth is, there is no understanding of ourselves, at least not any that will bring lasting change, unless we make the room to listen, respond, listen again…basically, learn how to commune with God.
So how do we make room?
We are close to two years living overseas. There’s a lot that I have made a mess of—falling flat on my face and exhausting myself in the process. But, for most of this time, there is one thing I did well.
I made time for God.
Most of the time, I have been so confused and unsure what I am to do in this new life. With three lil ones including a new baby, I had a hard time getting out. And when I did, I didn’t know how to ask where the baking soda was in the store. I didn’t know how to get to the store. I didn’t know the recipes that work the best to substitute for crescent rolls or mac-n-cheese or pizza sauce. What ingredients did I need? Where were they and how did I ask for them? I didn’t know which friendships or ministry to pursue when I did have the time. In the middle of this mess, how could I keep from going crazy?
I could find twenty minutes every day—good, bad, cold, hot, morning, evening—twenty minutes and a route for a vigorous walk. This I could do.
And so I did.
The combination of time outside and exercise keep me motivated as well as make the time fruitful. It is always, always, twenty minutes that I listen to the things that right my mind. A sermon. Worship music. The scripture I am meditating upon and memorizing as I listen to passages I can record through this app.
And a question that I am always asking, “What are you saying to me, God?”
I’m pouring out my heart some times because the fresh air seems to make it flow
Most of the time the worship music or sermon or scripture is in the background. Some times what I am hearing comes right from this. Like this version of ‘Be Still My Soul’ that kept me in some of the most tumultuous days. Or the Prodigal God sermons from Tim Keller that I have listened to over and over again. Or all of the promises I affirmed about God delivering me from fears, defeating my slavery to fear and casting it out with perfect love through this ‘no fear’ set in my memory verses.
In the darkest period of our transition I experienced the fall sunsets. And I got the strength I needed to fight another day.
So, I’ll say it again: Make time for God.
As little as twenty minutes a day can make all the difference in how you live for God in this world. It probably doesn’t seem too radical. Yet, in a busy, busy world where we can never get everything done, it is one of the most counter-cultural things we can do. Let go of all that’s undone and make it the non-negotiable in our day’s schedule.
We head back to the States in two days for two months. We’ll travel a lot, but wherever we are, there will be twenty minutes or so each day that will be the same for me the whole world over.