One of my goals on a recent spiritual retreat was to laugh. While at first glance that might not sound like much of a spiritual goal for a spiritual retreat, I want to assure you it was.
As an enneagram eight, I need to play, I need to laugh, I need to enjoy. As an enneagram eight, that play, laughter, and enjoyment don’t always happen spontaneously. The toy box warns, “Some assembly required.” The eight should come with a similar warning pertaining to play, “Some cultivation required.”
So I left for my retreat ready to cultivate some play time, some laughter. My laughter cultivation had one simple tool: Netflix.
My retreat was a complete success in that I laughed until my sides hurt. I watched one episode of a show I had never before seen, the episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee that featured Jim Carrey.
Laughter is good medicine. It’s about time for me to pull out the Netflix machine and watch another episode.
Nothing gets the day started like sitting with God.
Some days as my sitting comes to a close I feel eager to begin the activities of the day.
Other days I don’t want my sit to end, I just wish I could continue this special communion a little longer.
Today I want to keep sitting with God, but my heart is full and I know I’m ready for the day, come what may.
As my sit ends, I am already looking forward to this special time tomorrow.
Sitting with God.
Some days it’s, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Other days it’s, “Know that I am God and be still.”
Every day the key components are being still and knowing God.
The phone is off.
The television is off.
The computer is off.
The music player is off.
The car is off.
Sure, in a way it is quiet,
but still, this is not the quiet
I am searching for.
My mind is racing —
thoughts are clanging around
cares are distracting
to-do list leftovers are screaming.
How do I find the quiet?
Is there a switch?
Can I turn off all the distractions?
Is there a door?
Can I just walk away from the noise
and into the quiet?
God, take me into the quiet.
Take me into Your peace.
Please, God, let’s go together,
walk with me into the quiet.
I still remember visiting a church in the mid 1980’s. What stands out in my memory is what I saw in their songbooks. As I flipped through the pages I saw a number of songs had been stamped with a bold, red message: “Unscriptural Song: Do Not Sing.”
While I cannot remember all the songs that had been marked, I do recall “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” was one.
Since this was the first time I had ever seen anything like this and I was curious about what could possibly be considered unscriptural about this particular song, I approached a friend of mine who was a member of the church to inquire. He expressed surprise that I would even ask about that song because it was “filled with false doctrine.” When I asked him to be specific about the doctrinal problems included in this particular song, he unloaded.
“This song encourages people to directly address Jesus. We are supposed to talk to God the Father in the name of Jesus. Never are we commanded to talk to Jesus.”
My intention is not to debate his response; in fact, I will just leave it right there for you to consider.
But I will tell you I remembered that “Do Not Sing” stamp this morning. The memory was triggered as I found myself singing, “I want to be a worker for the Lord. I want to love and trust his Holy Word. I want to sing and pray and be busy everyday in the kingdom of the Lord.”
I am not sure why that song came to mind this morning, but it did. As I thought about the words I was singing I remembered that red stamp and thought for a moment that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for being a worker for the Lord;. I am in favor of singing and prayer and trusting. But I cringed at the words: “be busy everyday.”
I am convinced that we have neglected God’s teaching about Sabbath and rest. I am concerned that constant “busyness” is causing untold problems in the church — even killing the relationship some have with God. Do we really want to be busy everyday? What about days or seasons of rest? Have we forgotten this is a major emphasis in scripture?
So where can I get one of those stamps? I’m gonna climb up there and stamp that screen.
“The soul is like a wild animal–tough resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.”
–Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak, pp. 7-8.
“Take time to be separate from all friends and all duties, all cares and all joys; time to be still and quiet before God. Take time not only to secure stillness from man and the world, but from self and its energy. Let the Word and prayer be very precious; but remember, even these may hinder the quiet waiting. The activity of the mind in studying the Word, or giving expression to its thoughts in prayer, the activities of the heart, with its desires and hopes and fears, may so engage us that we do not come to the still waiting on the All-Glorious One. Though at first it may appear difficult to know how thus quietly to wait, with the activities of mind and heart for a time subdued, every effort after it will be rewarded; we shall find that it grows upon us, and the little season of silent worship will bring a peace and a rest that give blessing not only in prayer, but all the day.”