What Or Who Will You Turn To?
I don’t know about you, but each week I promise myself I’ll do better next week. Better meal planning and prep, better at venturing out of the house with my little one, do more during my little one’s nap time than just watch TV; read a book, blog, work, work out, read the Bible, pray or simply be. And at the end of each week I’m disappointed. I’ve eaten more take out than I should have, hardly moved my body, watched too much TV and spent way too much time on Instagram. Why is that? Why is it that rather than spending time reading the Bible or spending time with God, I’m scrolling on Instagram or catching up on an episode of Silent Witness or Bake Off? But if I’m asked, I’m convinced I am way too busy to keep up with the things that really matter to me.
I recently got into a Christian podcast called As For Me And My House and on one episode they talked about practical ways of how to break out of a spiritual dry season and one of the things Milena suggests is note down how much time in an average day you spend doing things. This helps to show you where you’re wasting the most amount of your time (if you’re a procrastinator like me). Soon enough you get to see that it isn’t that you don’t have time to work out, read the Bible or pray every day, it’s that you spend time in the wrong areas and don’t allow time in your day for things that deep down your soul is crying out for. According to a survey by Microsoft, 77% of young adults admitted that when nothing is occupying their attention, the first thing they do is reach for their phone. I know I’m guilty as charged! Are you?
Because of the age we live in now, with instant gratification at our finger tips, we feel the need to fill the silence and fill the void that boredom brings. But what we seem to have forgotten is that those moments of boredom are the portals to prayer and development.
‘We…are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion’
So now we have come to realise that there is a problem, how on earth do we fix this obsession with distraction? There are 4 key things that help with unhurrying your life, the first being silence and solitude.
In Matthew 4:1-2 it says:
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
The Greek word for wilderness is ‘eremos’ which means many different things including a solitary place, the desert, desolated place or a quiet place. There are lots of stories in the Gospels about Jesus and His relationship to ‘eremos’, but why? Even when He’s tired, had the longest of days healing the sick and helping the lowest of the low, He still needed time alone by Himself and His Father. He was led by the Spirit to the wilderness because it was there that He was at the height of His spiritual powers. After 40 days of fasting and prayer in a quiet place, He found the mental capacity to face the devil. This time alone, became an ongoing part of His life rhythm.
In Mark 6 after such a long, busy day without the chance to stop for food, Jesus says to His disciples to go with Him in a boat in a solitary (eremos) place. But when they got to the boat they were surrounded by people so Jesus stopped to teach them all. Even Jesus’ plans didn’t always go as He wanted, just as our daily lives get the better of our time: other things come up, emergency work calls, friends who need your time. But once He was done, rather than turning to a drink, another vice or distraction, Jesus sent His disciples on to Bethsaida, dismissed the crowd and spent time alone, praying. In Luke’s Gospel in particular it is made clear that the busier and more famous Jesus became, the more He withdrew to a quiet place.
Therefore if even Jesus needed that time, then us mere mortals need that quiet time. Even more so!
By silence we mean both external and internal silence. No music, no TV in the background, no phone notifications. Easy right, just switch everything off. But that internal silence is what is most difficult. That constant internal monologue, for which there is no off switch. But this is where practice makes perfect. The more we go to eremos, the more used to the quiet time we get, the more relaxed our mind becomes. Opening up to hear what He needs us to hone in on.
Solitude is of course when you are by yourself with Christ, not loneliness or isolation, but time when you nourish your soul.
But why should this of any surprise? Our relationship with God should be like any other relationship we have: without quality time, without that continued effort and hard work on your part to keep things ticking along, our relationship will wither away.
That’s why Habits are such an important pillar of our church. We need to spend that time, sometimes it’ll be 10 minutes, other times an hour and other times still an hour won’t be enough. But just as Jesus needed eremos, to connect with His Father, to understand what steps to take next, what to say yes and more importantly what to say no to, and just to feel strengthened and energised to tackle the next hurdle, we too, need this practice in our every day.
So the question is, when your mind is busy, something is weighing heavy on your heart and everyday life gets the better of you, what, or more importantly, who will you turn to?
A couple of weeks ago at our Prayer & Worship night, Sam challenged us to spend at least 10 minutes a day to spend by ourselves and God in silence. So I put that same challenge to you.