I am serving on a Christian retreat for youth this weekend. I have done this for the past several years and each time I see God do something I didn’t expect. There is something about meeting with fellow believers in places dedicated to serving God. I can’t explain it, but I have this feeling that God has places he likes to visit. Places where his people can experience his presence in ways that can almost be described as tangible.
One of the curiosities of Jesus’ ministry was how he often would retreat from the disciples and the crowds to spend time with his Father. He would disappear and get away from it all so he could focus and hear more clearly. There is a lesson for in Jesus’ example. We too need time of retreat. Time of stepping out of what we are doing so God has our concentrated attention.
Can I say I do this like I should? No! Part of it is I am not as disciplined as I need to be. I find my mind wandering. But, I also think part of my problem is I may not be in a place where God likes to visit. I have thought about this before, but this could be part of the reason I love sitting in the sanctuary of my church. I feel close to God there. There is a marked difference in the space.
One of the gifts we get during Lent is the opportunity to get alone with God. It would be wise for us to take some time in the days we have left of this Lenten season to step out of our typical routines and spend some time with God. Go to a place where you have felt close to God and give Him your undivided attention. Put it on your calendar and keep the appointment.
I am excited about this weekend. Both because of what He will do in and for these young people. But, also for what he will do in and for me. I am glad to be in a place where God’s presence abides.
If there is one word that does not describe me, it would be rhythm. I can walk and chew gum. I can a great variety of activities that require coordination, but I can’t dance or keep the beat of a song. This reality makes for a frustrated guitarist! But, I pick along as best as I can (pun intended!).
One of the lessons that I have learned in the course of my faith journey is that faith has an ebb and flow. There are highs and there lows. The most constant reality is change. How we handle the changes that will come determines the richness of our experiences. It is quite fortunate for us all, that wisdom and age (normally, but not always) grow together. Lent has become one of the harmonies of my life. It is a reminder of the passage of time, but also the possibility for growth.
As in all things, superstition and abuse can take something useful and distort it and even destroy it. I, however, want to see this season of preparation and contemplation for what it is–an opportunity to turn my affections toward God. This does not mean that sin has ceased to creep at the door. Rather, my awareness of sin and its effects is heightened and brought into stark relief against the sacrifice of Christ on Easter. Every year, this time comes and we have another change to take steps toward deeper faithfulness and obedience.
The power of the Christian calendar is in its intentionally drawing our attention to God’s work in the world through the church. Can this calendar become a crutch or even a hindrance? Yes, it can. The task is working toward a balance and a consistency in our faith walk. Rhythm. Finding it and remaining faithful to it is one of the keys to a life lived with God.
The famed G. K. Chesterton found a unique way to describing our problem and our predicament. It has always captured my imagination and I share it with you in the hope that it captures yours.
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” (emphasis added)
What Do You Value?
If looking at your checkbook will give you an idea of where and for what your money is being spent, what will determine where and for what you life is being spent? The simple truth, I believe, is that what we give to most is what, in the end, we value most. This is not a comment of judgment, but a reality. When I look at what I do with these few precious moments that I have been given in and on this world, I have to ask, “What good is coming of my being here?” When the time comes for all of us, and it will, when we will breath our last, will what we remember be memories of a life filled with years or years filled with life?
Being a Christian means that we have made a choice. Whether we understood it completely or not the choice was made. It was a choice to live by a certain code of morals, ethics and values. The choice was to change the way we were living our lives because we had met someone who had a better way. A vote of confidence in Jesus is a vote of no confidence in ourselves-that we cannot find the best way, let alone live that way on our own. I think that it is an injustice to new Christians not to explain this to them. If a plant is not growing or bearing fruit the assumption is that it must be dead. Continue reading Growing Pains, Pt. 4 | “Participation (Time)”