Category Archives: Open: Creating Space In Our Lives For God

Giving Is…

Giving Is...


The narrative of scarcity is so deeply ingrained in our culture, so deeply ingrained in us, that it’s incredibly difficult to escape it. It may take the form of hoarding, as seen on reality TV. Or it may take the form of obsessively checking the stock ticker. Or it may take the form of hiding savings under the bed. But whatever form it takes, this narrative is for us like water is for fish: we don’t even realize we’re immersed in it. This is precisely why when somebody gives, really gives, people don’t get it. It’s why a couple years ago a handful of commentators criticized Kent Brantly’s decision to give his time, his energy, his money, and even his life to serve the people of Liberia suffering from Ebola. Just like so many of us they were captive to the narrative of scarcity and didn’t even realize it.

We, too, have no idea how captive we are to this narrative. Which is why if we’re going to become generous givers, just like God, we’re going to have to recognize God’s abundance. Yet even more than that, we’re going to have to learn to trust in God’s abundance. And the thing is trust in God’s abundance means more than just saying “Yeah I trust in God’s abundance.” Whether we trust or not only becomes clear when we act out of that trust. This means that to trust in God’s abundance is to intentionally commit ourselves to becoming generous givers, people who give our time, our energy, our attention, our possessions, and our money as a demonstration of our trust in God’s abundance.

In a world in which nearly everybody is trying to take as much as possible, this may be the most peculiar feature of what it means to be part of the body of Christ. And yet, make no mistake, this is what we’ve been called to do: to be generous givers, just like God—giving to each other, giving to our neighbors, giving to our co-workers, giving to strangers, giving to organizations that do good work, giving to our church family, giving what we’ve been given.

giving is:

trusting God to take care of us more than trying to take care of ourselves, so we can share more than we stockpile.

Walter Brueggemann helpfully draws our attention to the narrative challenges that make it difficult for us to fully commit ourselves to the practice of giving.

More Precious Than Silver

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of giving:

1: Whether or not you regularly carry cash, keep some extra cash with you this week (maybe a $20 bill). Wherever you go and whatever you do, keep your eyes open for an opportunity to give that money away to someone who is obviously in need. Don’t talk yourself out of it by worrying about how they might spend it. This is about us giving, not controlling the behavior of others through our giving.
2: For some of us shopping is a form of escaping (buying something new to feel better), for others it’s practically a mindless habit (almost like an instinct). Still others of us shop out of a sense of needing to keep up with the latest technology or fashions. In order to cultivate greater awareness of your spending habits and create more financial space in your life to be generous, try to make it the entire next week (or longer, like a month) without purchasing anything new that is not a necessity. See how this change in spending impacts the rest of your life.
3: Take some time this week to reflect on your current commitment to sacrificial giving (to church, charities, and individuals). Find a way to make additional sacrifices in other areas of your life so that you can increase your sacrificial giving. How does this increase in giving help you help others?


Giving Playlist

This week’s playlist features songs that dwell upon the themes of God’s provision, gratitude, and giving.

Confessing Is…

Confessing Is...


In our world of pretending and hiding, of careful image construction and managing appearances, the practice of confessing is all too easy to neglect or dismiss. We’d rather not have to confront our own hard hearts or acknowledge our own unfaithfulness. The truth all too often seems too difficult for us to bear. But when we steer clear of the practice of confessing, what we find, over time, is that we are more and more compromised, less and less truthful. As a result it can become increasingly difficult to recognize any resemblance between the lives we claim to be living and the lives we’re actually living. The reality is that however scary the thought of confessing may be, the thought of what becomes of a life devoid of the practice of confessing is far more unsettling. Freedom, true freedom, only comes when we’re willing to dare to deal with the truth.

confessing is:

telling the whole truth about ourselves, trusting that the greater truth of God’s love for us can save us and set us free.

The following video visualizes confession and forgiveness in a powerful way, inspiring us to give the practice of confessing a chance.

This song by Andy Gullahorn uses words and music to paint an image of the kind of community that can emerge between people whose lives are characterized by the practice of confessing, of telling the truth about themselves.

Listen To Our Hearts

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of confessing:

1: When you pray this week, rather than asking God for forgiveness in general, take the step of naming the specific sins you’re struggling with. Try your best to trust that God is working to set you free from these specific struggles.
2: There is a deep healing that can be found by sharing all of your sin struggles with one other person, who after learning the whole truth about you, can pronounce God’s grace over you. Prayerfully identify who that person is for you and fully share with them your struggles with sin. If someone chooses to share their confession with you, listen with gentleness and patience, not correcting them or minimizing their confession, but responding to them with the love and grace of God.
3: Choose someone you’ve sinned against. Initiate setting up a time this week to speak with them, confess your sin, and ask them to forgive you, hoping that they will respond to your vulnerability with grace.


Confessing Playlist

This week’s playlist features songs that reflect on themes of sinfulness, confession, and grace.

Feasting Is…

Feasting Is...

So many of Jesus’s interactions with people occurred at tables over shared meals. These interactions became for Jesus an opportunity to build relationships that could not have been built any other way. They provided a chance to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of people who’d been treated by their society as though they had none. They created a venue for bridging seemingly unbridgeable racial/ethnic/religious/political divides. The truth is if you removed all the shared meal stories from the gospels, they’d be stripped of much of their power.

Today, many of us are discouraged by the division in our world. Moreover, we’re perplexed about how we are to respond to the conditions in which we live. A close look at the ministry of Jesus suggests that table fellowship holds a great deal of potential for helping us navigate our changing culture and bridging divides. The hard truth, however, is that most of us are either (1) too busy inhaling fast food on our way from one activity to the next on our overcrowded schedules or (2) too intimidated by the thought of sitting across from someone who is different than us, to actually share a meal with others the way Jesus did. Somehow, though, we’ve got to find a way to cultivate the vital practice of feasting in our lives so that, through it, God might continue to do the work of bringing people together and helping everyone have a sense of their inherent dignity and worth as children of God.

feasting is:

sharing in meals where everyone matters and everyone belongs, because Jesus is present at the table with us.

The following clip from Antwone Fisher, in which Antwone is welcomed to the table by the family he’s never known, offers a glimpse into the power of a welcoming feast.

Come Share The Lord

Through the power and the presence of God, tables can become a sacred doorway where Jesus steps through and right into our lives and helps us see what the world could be. God can transform us around tables and help us taste and see the way things should be.

So this week, take some time to plan a meaningful meal at your home where Jesus is present.
1: Identify someone to invite to your meal who would be especially blessed by sharing in it (someone who might not be able to cook for themselves, who lives alone, who doesn’t live close to any family, whom you’d like to get to know).
2: Think back on the meals that have meant the most to you and the dishes that remind you of feeling welcome and at home. Create a menu for your meal that includes these dishes.
3: Create and send a personal invitation to invite your honored guest to your meal. Begin praying for them to be able to join you and for Jesus to be present for your special meal together.
4: When the time for your shared meal arrives, focus on being welcoming and being emotionally and spiritually present. Do your best to treat your guest the way Jesus treated people around tables. Keep your eyes open to see how God blesses your time together.


Feasting Playlist

This week’s playlist features songs that center on themes of welcome and table.

Celebrating Is…

Celebrating Is...


Some Christians function as though God is basically withdrawn from the world. They live as though the old Deist view of God is accurate: that God relates to creation like a watchmaker to a watch, creating it and winding it up, but then paying the watch no mind as it runs on its own. For many of us, however, this simply doesn’t add up; we have a sense that God is truly present and attentive to creation. Yet the reality is that while many of us assume this to be true, we sometimes have a hard time recognizing the evidence of God’s presence, much less articulating our experiences of God’s presence. This difficulty is compounded by our society’s overwhelming reliance upon narratives of earning and achievement. That is, our lives are what we make them; we have what we have earned.

But the Christian claim is that at the heart of our lives there is something at work beyond our own ambition, there is someone at work more powerful than ourselves. God, according to our faith, is present and at work in our lives. If we have eyes to see, we will find the evidence of God’s presence all over the place. The more we train our eyes to recognize this evidence within us and around us, the more we are prepared to live lives characterized by the practice of celebrating.

celebrating is:

finding ways, in a self-centered world, to tell God-centered stories about our lives and the lives of others.

Even when we know there is much to celebrate, the practice of celebrating can be difficult for us. Sometimes it’s difficult because of the struggle to shift ourselves to the margin of our stories so that God can be at the center. Other times it’s difficult because we’ve heard things attributed to God that make us shudder. Sometimes what we need are guides or prompts that show us how to go about celebrating, how to tell God stories. In the first of the following videos we find someone who is celebrating the specifics of God’s work. In the second, we find general reminders of some of the ways in which God works, which can serve as prompts for us to think about how God has worked in those ways in our own lives. I hope these videos will help us to embrace the practice of celebrating, that we might be able to honor God through the sharing of our God-stories!

What the Lord Has Done in Me

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of celebrating:

1: The next time someone thanks or praises you for something good you’ve done, find a way to give the credit to God.
2: Find a time each evening over the next week to ask yourself the question, “Where have I seen God at work today?” See how this helps improve your ability to notice God working in ways you might not otherwise have recognized. At the end of the week, find someone to share a couple of these stories with.
3: Reflect back over the story of your life. Identify a time when you felt especially close to God. What was the experience of God’s presence like? How did this encounter change you? Take some time to pray, asking God for more of these experiences.
4: Read these two passages from the story of Joseph: Genesis 37:12-36 and Genesis 50:15-20. Near the end of the story, Joseph says to his brothers, “You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it…” How have you experienced this in your own life? Share the story of what God did in your life with someone you think it would encourage.

Remember to make God the main character of the stories you tell.


Celebrating Playlist

This week’s playlist features songs that celebrate the God’s faithfulness–past, present, and future.

Blessing Is…

Blessing Is...


There are moments when it seems as though much of our world has lost interest in kindness, moments when it seems as though all we can see and hear and feel is what is wrong in the people and places around us. Sometimes in these moments we find our hearts and our speech affected by these realities. Our attitudes toward others, our words about others, and our feelings concerning others so easily become dismissive, uncaring, and judgmental. When this happens, it becomes very difficult for us to retain hope for the future of these others, to recognize the inherent worth of every one of these others, and to treat them as deeply loved children of God.

All of this can be true of us in relation to others who are very different than us, but it can also be true of us in relation to those we are close to. Many of us have seen this, haven’t we? A husband or wife who has nursed a frustration or grudge that grows into treating their spouse as if they are bitter opponents in a cold war. A person who has allowed a political disagreement to become the grounds for vicious attacks on a friend in the name of principles. A church member who has fed a critical spirit for so long that he or she tears down fellow followers of Jesus in the name of “truth.”

The reality is so much of the speech in our world today amounts to cursing. You see, the use of four-letter words isn’t necessarily the primary indicator that someone is cursing in conversation. Neither is the need to “bleep” words the main signal that someone is cursing on television. At its core, cursing consists of language that closes off instead of opening up the future, that tears down instead of building up, that is destructive instead of nurturing.

Of all people, God’s people should be blazing a different trail in the world. As followers of Jesus, we should be known as people who are interested in opening up the future for others, for building up those around us, for nurturing each and every child of God. This is where the practice of blessing emerges as one of the timeliest practices we can possibly cultivate in our lives for the sake of the world.

blessing is:

using the power of carefully chosen words to describe and impart a God-shaped, hope-filled future for another person.

When it comes to learning how to become fluent in the language of blessing and to cultivate the practice of blessing in our lives, we need good examples. The videos below offer two different glimpses into the practice of blessing. The first video is a feature from Good Morning America that captures teachers offering words of blessing to their students. The second video is a song by Andrew Peterson, sung alongside his daughter, for whom he wrote the song.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Words don’t only describe things, words can actually do things, and with God’s help, our words can do amazing things in one another’s lives. While it’s true that we don’t have the power to bless people apart from God’s power working with us, God loves blessing people through us. All we have to do is try. To try to speak God’s honest truth about what we see in someone and in their future. To intentionally, verbally share the hope we have for them.

So this week, choose someone you would like to bless and then create a blessing for them by:
1: Stating your love and respect for them. (Help them understand what they mean to you.)
2: Honoring who they are. (Describe their natural God-given gifts and passions.)
3: Painting the picture of a good future they can have by partnering with God. (The best blessings ask great things of us, because the person blessing us can see God’s greatness in us.)

Once you’ve written this blessing, find a way to share it with the person you’ve chosen by giving them a handwritten letter or by speaking the blessing to them.


Blessing Playlist

This week’s playlist includes songs that model well the language of blessing.

Serving Is…

Serving Is...


In this seventh message in our Open series, Jarrod offered us a timely reminder that as followers of Jesus we are called to serve others secretly, without any desire for or interest in recognition or reward, just as Jesus did. Most of us who are followers of Jesus are aware enough of his call to serve in secret that we rarely announce our service with a press release. If we’re honest, though, there are plenty of us, maybe most of us, who struggle to truly keep our service secret. And my suspicion is the struggle to keep our service secret is really a struggle to come to grips with service that doesn’t result in recognition or reward.

The reality in our world is that service is very often viewed as a means to an end, not an end in itself. A search of Google for the words “service” and “secret” reveals that service is seen as a means to gaining influence, staying sober, growing your business, becoming a leader, attaining happiness, feeling better about yourself, improving your health, and so much more. No wonder it’s hard for us to cultivate the habit of serving in secret, without any desire or interest in recognition or reward! To aim for nothing in return for our service goes against everything our society believes about efficiency, about getting a good return on an investment.

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun observes that “we come up with subtle and socially approved ways of promoting ourselves and our image. We give money to causes where our name gets out. We name drop about who we know. We let slip how and where we volunteer. Every good deed we do sees the light of day. And every juicy secret we know comes out in our next conversation.” Calhoun’s assessment is hauntingly accurate. How many times have I become restless waiting for someone to notice something I’ve done for them? How many times have you experienced disappointment when you received nothing in return for serving someone else?

serving is:

doing whatever it takes to help someone, not to get credit, but to get closer to Christ and his selfless way of life.

In the video below, Matt Russell explores this idea of serving.

If we’re going to be able to fulfill Jesus’s calling to develop the practice of serving in secret, perhaps the best place to start is by making this song our daily prayer.

Take My Life and Let It Be

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of serving:

1: Set aside specific times to faithfully pray for someone without telling them (or anyone else) that you’re doing so.
2: Write an anonymous note of encouragement to someone who you know could really use it. Make sure it doesn’t get traced back to you.
3: Make a baked good. Drive over to someone’s house to deliver it. Leave the car running. Place your gift on the doormat. Ring the doorbell. RUN!!!
4: Do a simple task that someone else needs done. Make sure no one else finds out that you were the one who did it for them.
5: Next time you are in a drive-thru, don’t just pay for your own coffee or food. Pay for the people in the car behind you as well. Be sure to drive away before the people behind you realize what’s happening.

If you are like most people, you may discover the practice of secret service to be somewhat dissatisfying. More than we realize, we tend to do nice things for people in order to get credit or recognition. Ask God to help you have more selfless motives when it comes to serving others.


Serving Playlist

This week’s playlist includes songs that touch on themes of brokenness in the world and the chance we have to serve the world on God’s behalf.

Befriending Is…

Befriending


From the very beginning, the biblical narrative insists that human beings are not isolated individuals, we are created for community. Few Christians I know would dispute the idea that we’re made for community. In many cases, though, the communities in which we gather function like isolated individuals. We have been so deeply influenced by the values of individualism and personal responsibility so deeply held by our society, that we have begun to think we can exist on our own. When fear is added to this potent recipe of individualism and personal responsibility, it becomes really easy for Christians to develop a toxic self-centeredness that results in withdrawal from others or, worse, the kind of antagonism toward others that leads us to build both figurative and literal walls of hostility between ourselves and others.

But the Spirit of God calls us to something more. That calling often comes from poets and prophets, people who throughout the ages have called us to true community, to an outward orientation rather than an inward obsession. This vision of community sometimes seems idealistic, like nothing more than a pipe dream. And yet what these poets and prophets know is that if we commit ourselves to the practice of befriending, the Spirit of God can bring about something more wonderful than we could ask or imagine.

befriending is:

developing a welcoming relationship with someone we don’t yet understand, because we care more about them than any disagreement we may have with them.

Nearly 400 years ago, John Donne penned the following words, words that speak profoundly, despite the patriarchal language and dated expressions.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

More recently, author George Saunders and the late musician Solomon Burke, have expressed in their own ways the same sentiments as Donne. Saunders uses satire to highlight the degree to which we’ve absorbed individualism into our hearts and minds. Burke, on the other hand, belts out a sermonic plea to recognize that our lives are bound up with every other life. We are never just individuals, we are always part of a community. Beyond that, we’re part of a community far broader than most of us realize or admit, and if everybody in that community isn’t free, “none of us are free.”

So where do we begin? Frederick Buechner offers us some helpful guidance for getting started with the practice of befriending in his book Whistling In The Dark.

If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces, but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.

What would such “seeing” look like in action? Naomi Feil offers us a pretty good example.

May God give us ears to hear the words of these poets and prophets, whose words about community highlight the desperate need for us to become people committed to befriending. And may the Spirit plant these words deep within our hearts, so that we might begin to live them out each and every day.

Instruments Of Your Peace

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of befriending:

1: Choose a social/ethnic/racial/religious group that makes you uncomfortable. Commit to praying each day for this group in the coming week. Avoid praying prayers of criticism, judgment, or destruction. Instead, ask for God to help this group experience God’s life-changing love and grace, perhaps even through you.
2: Choose someone you don’t know at a social gathering (church, gym, party, etc.). Intentionally initiate a friendly conversation that helps them feel more comfortable and helps you get to know them better.
3: Whether you live in an urban neighborhood or on a few acres outside of town, choose someone who lives close by who you don’t know all that well. Be especially aware of and kind to them this week. See how God works through simple acts of friendship and kindness.
4: Shop or eat at a place of business located in an area of town you usually avoid. This will allow you to rub shoulders with people you wouldn’t normally encounter. Pay attention to how being in an unfamiliar place around unfamiliar people makes you feel. Imagine what it might take for you to connect with them on a deeper level.


Befriending Playlist

This week’s playlist includes songs that touch on themes of empathy, appreciating our differences, our need to love and be loved, and the calling to befriend that is at the heart of what it means to be God’s people.

Learning Is…

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When I think about the most faithful followers of Jesus I know, they all have one thing in common: they are lifelong learners with an unquenchable desire to know God better and to become more like Jesus as the Spirit works within them. As we continue to think about what it would look like to form a healthy foundation for spirituality, it is crucial to spend some time reflecting on and cultivating the practice of learning in our lives.

learning is:

being formed in the image of Christ by listening to his Word with an open heart and practicing his Way with a trusting spirit.

One of the best ways we can continue learning is by regularly listening to the words of Scripture. Yet for many Christians it can be challenging to continue to approach Scripture with hearts and minds that are open to new insights. Far too often, Scripture becomes a subject to be mastered rather than something that masters us.

In the video below, N.T. Wright describes what it is like to come to Scripture with a completely different goal than mastery. I hope these words will shape the way you approach Scripture the next time you open it up to read.

Jesus, Let Us Come To Know You

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of learning:

1: Try memorizing a short, meaningful passage of scripture that can find a home in your heart. For example: Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 6:9-13; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 12:1-3. Take careful note this week of when you find yourself in situations that call these words from your heart to your mind.
2: Try reading one of the New Testament Gospels in one sitting (FYI: Mark is the shortest, Luke is the longest). Taking in the entire story at once is a very different experience from reading bits and pieces here and there. As you read, try to discover if there is something new about Jesus you’ve never really seen or noticed as much before. How can you incorporate this characteristic of Jesus into your own life?
3: Try reading the following psalms over the next week: Psalm 8, 13, 23, 46, 51, 121, and 139 (one for each day). How do these ancient words impact how you see yourself, your relationships, and the situations you find yourself in? In what ways do these words accurately describe your own thoughts and feelings?


Learning Playlist

The songs in this week’s playlist center upon the theme of learning. The first few songs in the playlist deal with the difficulty we have listening to God. The rest of the songs plead with God to speak to us, that we might be transformed more into the likeness of Jesus.

Enduring Is…

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In many ways, the first three practices we’ve focused on–praying, fasting, and slowing–have been about stripping away what is unhealthy in our lives–self-reliance, self-indulgence, and busyness. These practices all help us clear space for God to work within us.

Today, we begin to turn toward practices that help us build a foundation of healthy spirituality, now that we’ve spent some time dealing with the unhealthy stuff. The practice of enduring is vitally important if we are to be open to God’s work within us.

enduring is:

moving past the need to make our pain mean something logical, so we can start to make our pain do something meaningful.

The reality, however, is that it’s not easy. Endurance isn’t exactly a strong suit for most of us. When we don’t understand, we want answers. When we’re hurting, we want relief. And it all makes sense, except sometimes there are no answers. Sometimes there is no relief. Sometimes what we need is to stick it out, to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, to cultivate a commitment to the practice of enduring.

It is difficult to speak of enduring, though because so many of us are quick to try to fix things. How many of us have heard trite cliches like “There’s a reason for everything,” or “God had a more important plan we just don’t understand?” How many of us have spoken words like these, words that despite their good intentions are dismissive and hurtful to those dealing with great sorrow? Of course, our faith ought to have something to say about enduring, and it does. But before we can ever say anything, we first need to listen. We need to listen to stories of suffering, stories of trials, stories of difficulty. Not in a way that we’re constantly thinking about how to respond, whether in word or deed; just listening–nothing more, nothing less.

The following video captures one such story. Listen, just listen to the story. Don’t think about what you could do or what you could say. Just listen faithfully to the story David Varner has to tell.

As people of faith, when we hear such stories, or when we go through similar times that call for enduring, what we need is not a cliche or an easy answer, what we need more than anything else is to be reminded that in the practice of enduring we find ourselves in good company. We follow one who knows better than anyone else what it is to endure, and who will walk alongside us when we find ourselves having to give this enduring thing a go.

I’m not sure anyone captures this reality better than Michael Card. In his song “Come Lift Up Your Sorrows,” Card sums it all up so well when he sings, “Come worship him with your wounds, for he’s wounded too.” May this song be a catalyst that helps you embrace the practice of enduring.

It Is Well With My Soul

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of enduring:

1: Take 30 minutes to make a list of all of the things that give you hope. Put it somewhere visible as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
2: Try to remember a time in your life when God carried you faithfully through suffering. Find a way to share that story with someone.
3: Try to reach out to someone you know who is hurting, whether by making a call, writing a note, visiting a hospital room or nursing home, or sharing coffee or a meal with them. Don’t try to fix them or explain their hurt. Just be there.
4: If you’re currently enduring pain in your life that is a real struggle and you’re trying to bear it alone, find someone to share that burden with this week.

After trying one or more of these enduring experiences, take a few minutes to reflect on how they impacted you. What unique things has God shown you through these experiences? What are some ways you can stop avoiding pain at all costs for the sake of others?


Enduring Playlist

This week’s playlist works through the stages we seem to go through when we find ourselves in position to practice enduring: reckoning with the challenges we have to endure, crying out for help, and trusting that God will carry us through one way or another.

Slowing Is…

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It’s now week 3 of our exploration of spiritual practices that open up space in our lives for God. This week we turn our attention to slowing.

“…caught up in our own busyness, frantically running from one crisis to the next in a cycle that looks less like loving the Messiah and more like trying to become one.”

–Phileena Heuertz and Darren Prince

For so many of us busyness is a badge of honor. It gives us a sense that we matter, that we’re valuable. And yet Phileena Heuertz and Darren Prince hit the nail on the head in observing that our busyness is often a means to play God.

“We meet wonderful people, but lose them in our busyness. We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.”

–Mary Oliver

Not only does busyness seriously inhibit our relationship with God, it also makes it extremely difficult to have meaningful relationships with others. If we are to be faithful in loving God and loving people, in living out the greatest commands, we are going to have to figure out how to make a commitment to slowing.

slowing is:

doing less on purpose, so we can become more in God’s presence.

This message by Randy Harris provides a deeper look into one of the natural outgrowths of slowing: silence.

Be Still And Know

Here are a few simple ways to open your life to God this week through the practice of slowing:

1: Try spending time with someone else without any agenda or expectations other than to enjoy their presence.
2: Try turning down an opportunity for activity this week for the sole purpose of having additional time to rest.
3: Try to make it 24 hours without asking anyone in your life to “hurry up.”
4: Try to make a plan that enables you to have a 12-24 hour Sabbath in which you are able to refrain from work.

After trying one or more of these slowing experiences, take a few minutes to reflect on how they impacted you. Do you still struggle with guilt over not constantly producing and achieving? Why do you think this is? If you find this to be a struggle, ask God to set you free from guilt so that you can make slowing a regular part of your daily life.


Slowing Playlist

This week’s playlist begins by acknowledging how easily we get caught up in the busyness of life. Then the songs turn toward the theme of slowing as a way of leaving behind the frenetic pace at which too many of us live.