My “One Word” for 2015 kind of reminds me of Yoda. You know, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” Yoda was insistent on the doing. God is calling me to Be. Last year I “tried” the one-word thing. I felt God gave me the word unhurried–so that I could focus on my writing. Since I tried, I did not. *sigh*
I did the opposite. Indeed, I did remove some commitments and focused more on my writing. But I replaced much of my free time chasing other things–some meaningful, some … not so much. I lived an action-packed, flurry-filled life. For a long period of time, I felt my life was in a tailspin.
As I approached 2015, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to focus on for this year. He made it clear. Be … and do less. I’ve been thinking about what it really means to Be. I even googled it. There are lots of entries for questions like, What does it mean to be real? What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be in love? What does it mean to be bonded? But nothing that answers the question, What does it mean … to Be? If God called me to this—I certainly need to know what it is!
In his book, Seeing What Is Sacred, Ken Gire explains that in order for a seed to grow, it needs space. I enjoy gardening. I have success with some plants, but not all–especially vegetables. Several years ago, I decided to try tomatoes. I bought a 6-pack of tomato sprouts and proceded to plant all of them in what I thought was a very large pot. (For those of you wise in these things, you are chuckling.) There was not nearly enough room for these six plants. I had a lot of green stuff, but pitifully few flowers, and almost no tomatoes. That large pot? It would have been a perfect home for one of my little tomato sprouts. The plant needed room for its roots to spread out and absorb the nutrients in the soil. As it was, all of them competed for what little was available, leaving me with one more defeat in my attempt at gardening vegetables.
In the same way that seeds need space in their soil to grow, we need to make space to hear the Lord. We need pauses in order to grow spiritually. Gire uses Jesus’ example with the woman caught in adultery.
Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11)
When Jesus stooped down to write something on the ground, He created a pause with His silence. Into that pause flowed the crowd’s attention, preparing them for the words that followed. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
When He stooped down again, He created another pause. This time, though, what flowed into the silence was the crowd’s guilt.
And here is his key:
The space we give words—whether those words are the text of Scripture or the texts of our daily lives—allows them a place to live in our hearts. Without creating spaces of time in our lives, we stunt whatever growth the words were meant to produce.1
Honestly, creating space in my life is going to be hard. Really hard. But I think it’s going to be worth it!
For those of you familiar with the DiSC personality profiles, I am a High D. I’m all about being determined, decisive, driven. I am extremely productive. In short—I’m a doer!
SO! I have begun to evaluate my activities. I find myself laughing at times. Every part of life is about doing something. Doing the laundry, going grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom. All things that must—be—done.
Obviously, being is not about maintaining a smooth-running household. But I am making a few changes.
When we put all of our Christmas decorations away, I made a conscious choice about the table runner I put in my dining room. It was not red! I enjoy decorating for holidays. The next one is Valentine’s Day. But, for this year, I decided that if I put out my red runner, I would have work to do later when I put it away a couple of months from now. That’s not a bad thing, but I made this choice now so I can be later.
My To-Do Lists
Recently, a friend of mine asked me if I really needed to depend on a to-do list. I looked at her with incredulity–You have got to be kidding me! Nevertheless, I am considering this and have gone without a to-do list the last few days. To me, it’s still important to know what I need to pick up from the grocery store. But I’d like to feel that it’s not important to have every minute of my day scheduled. (I feel a tiny bit freer!)
Now, I am a technical gal. When I worked full-time outside the home, I developed software; so I know the benefits and I love all that technology has to offer in order to help us streamline our activities and help us be more productive and effective. The key is managing our technology, not being addicted to it. Often I find myself curious about things. Sometimes I take a minute to “jot a note” in the notepad on my iPhone. Or, I simply stop what I’m doing and look it up.
The change? Just because I can google something to answer the question burning in my mind, doesn’t mean that I need to do so. If it is, indeed, something that important, when I make it back to my computer, the Lord will prompt me to check it out. Putting it in my notepad actually creates something else for me to do. You might not think that is a big deal, but then you haven’t seen my notepad!
Many years ago, I gentleman that I worked with only checked email at 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m. His clients knew that if they sent a message at 10:30, it wouldn’t be read until later. He managed his schedule; his clients and their needs didn’t run his. This is something I’m considering. Turning off all my messaging apps and checking them at specified times. This is probably going to be the most difficult for me.
Television / DVR
I took a good look at my DVR, and cleared out some TV timers.
These are a few things that I am adjusting in my life. They are not “bad things.” But they do make me feel like a bee buzzing around, full of activity. They keep me doing, rather than being.
Now I’m thinking about what to do with those spaces … those pauses … those extra margins that I am creating.
Quiet Times that aren’t rushed. I will have more time to think and meditate on the Scriptures I’m reading so the Holy Spirit can do His work.
Time to work in my yard. (Maybe I’ll even plant tomatoes again!) Yes–that is a doing kind of thing. But digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, and pruning bushes stills my mind. It allows me to thoughtfully pray for others. Often the Lord speaks to me during those times.
Time to go to the gym. Again, this is a doing kind of thing. But it provides an opportunity for me to listen to music and worship the Lord when there aren’t other things going on around me. Plus–my body (and my family) receive the benefit.
In Scripture, it’s clear that God honors hard work and diligence. But we must have balance.
I don’t want the Lord’s voice crowded out by the flurry of activity. I want to hear Him–moment by moment! What about you?Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. (Psalm 46:10)
Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:6)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
1Gire, Ken. “The Seed of the Reflective Life.” In Seeing What Is Sacred, 39-40. Nashville, TN 37214: W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson, 2006.
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