Sitting here at my computer, looking at this white space on the screen, I had no idea what to write for my blog today. And again, I’ve waited until the last minute of my self-imposed deadline of posting every Tuesday. It is in fact, a few hours past my other self-imposed deadline of posting at 1:15 every Tuesday. It’s not like I haven’t been thinking and praying all week about something to write, it’s just that nothing is coming.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” But sometimes he doesn’t speak. So here I sit, writing about nothing. I once told a friend I would write even if I had nothing to say. That day has arrived.
This does lead to the thought that even though we ask, hope and want God to speak to us, sometimes he is quiet, or possibly he’s whispering so softly I can’t hear him. Or maybe I’ve been too distracted to really listen. Or maybe he’s giving me more time to figure things out for myself. Whatever the reason, I’m not hearing him. And I guess that’s OK. I’ll keep asking and trying to listen. I know I’ll get the message eventually, because he’s too good to leave me hanging for long.
When Job when through the worst time of his life, some of his friends came for a visit and sat with him while he grieved. They cried out in lament, ripped their robes and dumped dirt on their heads to show their grief with poor Job. They sat in silence with him for seven days, saying not one word that entire time. It’s remarkable to think they not only stayed for a whole week but didn’t talk at all.
The other amazing part of this story is Job having three such dedicated and selfless friends. It’s rare to have friends or be a friend like that. The only friend I know who would sit with me in my pain, for days on end or even months or years, is Jesus. I learned something about my friend and my pain – he won’t force himself into my pain, but I can invite him to sit with me.
In Self to Lose, Self to Find, Marilyn Vancil suggests we can invite Jesus into the middle of whatever we’re experiencing, be it negative emotions and feelings, pain or grief. I guess I can be a little slow, as I hadn’t thought of doing this before, but I tried it last time I went through a tough day and found it quite uplifting and encouraging. To know he shared my suffering, with no guilt trips or recriminations, lifted my spirit and my burden. What a friend we have in Jesus indeed.
I have nothing to add so I’m going to let this statement speak for itself:
“There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level, we can be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs, but deep within, behind the scenes at a profounder level we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathing” (Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion).
(Sorry about no post Tuesday. We were without power for over 24 hours due to fires in the area.)
I decided to give equal time to showing the positive side of devotionals. I’m reading one on prayer by Pete Briscoe, who said we might need to throw out our old ideas about prayer and think of it in a new way. It’s not new to some of us, but the implications are far-reaching enough we could all give it some thought – and prayer.
He said, “Most of our traditions, teachings, and examples miss the simple, pure, liberating essence of prayer: prayer is an intimate conversation with the One who passionately loves you and lives in you.” This understanding changes the way we pray – a conversation is two way; an intimate one is between two people or in this case, one person and a Father, who love and know each other well. And it’s not just one chat a day during your quiet time, but “a never-ceasing intimate conversation.”
Briscoe also points out that it’s liberating to realize we don’t have to follow any of the traditions and teachings we may have heard all our lives. I don’t pray the same as you and you don’t pray like me. We all relate to our Father God in our own unique way so it makes sense we would all talk to him differently and have our own way of relating and being with him. This also eliminates the guilt most of us have carried or still carry with us. In Christ, we can converse with him freely, simply and purely, from our hearts, with no reservations or inhibitions, just as we would with a close friend, because that’s what he is.
Jokes have been going around about people not getting dressed, skipping showers and letting themselves go during the health crisis. I must admit to wearing sweatpants unless I go to a grocery store, which is only once a week, and my hair desperately needs attention. But there are some areas of self-care I try to uphold.
I’ve discovered five things that feed my soul, help me maintain my equilibrium and give me reasons to carry on day after day. They are spending time with God/practicing his presence; riding my bike; baking; creating and sending greeting cards; and reading for pleasure. Some days I manage all five, most days at least three. (When I say discover, I don’t mean they are new to my life, rather I’m thinking of them in a new way.)
Feeding the soul is something King David did in a time of great distress. In 1 Samuel 30:6, David encouraged or strengthened himself in the Lord. He probably reminded himself how God had always been with him, fought his battles and took care of him. Strengthening ourselves by remembering how his grace has covered us is something we can and should do on a regular basis.
Self-care is important for all of us on whom others depend – most of us are in that category. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others? Or even do the basic job of a Christian – to love others? Your list may not look like mine, but you no doubt can think of one or two things that lift your spirit, bring a smile to your face and leave you energized and ready to keep going. Consider that God probably gave it (or them) to you for these reasons. He doesn’t like us to be discouraged any more than we do.
We can wear our sweatpants, skip a shower or two and let our hair grow, but let’s pay attention to what’s on the inside – what’s most important – by practicing self-care and feeding our souls.