Thursday, January 9, 2014

Living a Jet Ski Life

Every year I take a week of silence and solitude to pray, plan and prepare for what I will be teaching in the coming year. God has been so faithful to allow this to be such a profitable time for both me and the work of ministry at Melonie Park Church where I serve. But now that I've done this for a few years, I have learned to anticipate some predictable challenges. For example, I know I will need to work through the weight of loneliness that I feel most acutely when I wake up that first morning and no one is around. Right alongside the loneliness is the deafening sound of silence. Clocks ticking. The refrigerator coming to life with a steady hum and then holding its breath in silence. I've learned to anticipate the sense of panic when I look at what I have set out to do and become instantly overwhelmed with the certainty that there is no possible way to get it all done. These things I've learned to expect, but this year I encountered something new. Each day I woke up and began my work of praying, reading and studying. I stopped briefly to eat on occasion and continued my work until late at night. On average, I probably spent about 15 hours a day trying diligently to maximize the benefit of this time. But as the week went on, I realized that I was like a starving child seeking to satisfy his hunger by gorging on food recently delivered by the Red Cross. It was as if my soul had become so emaciated from the absence of silence and reflection that I felt compelled to greedily devour every waking moment. I even had trouble stopping to sleep at night in fear that I didn't consume enough time and would soon be returning home to live on the rations of a fast paced, sound bite, twitter feed, pace of life. I realized my soul was starving for the nourishment that can only be gained when I stop long enough to be still... bowing low to cup my hands into the spring of Living Water, where God alone can satisfy my soul. Stepping away has caused me to recognize the effect of living in our fast paced world. As media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s (yes, 50 years ago):
"Media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski."
That's the world we live in. And perhaps there is a method behind the madness of our highly fragmented information age. Maybe, just maybe, our enemy is behind the schemes of this world and His desire is to keep us moving so fast that we never really stop long enough to feast on the richness of God's love. Oh, we might wave as we zip by on our Jet Ski, but we no longer stop long enough to have a meaningful conversation. We don't go to the quiet place of prayer and reflection to nourish the deepest part of our soul. I think our enemy may be keeping us occupied while he is starving us to death. Lord, forgive me for falling into the enemy's trap. I'm sorry for ever believing that anything in life could possibly be more important than finding my rest in You. Teach me to slow down. Help me step away and be still before You. To listen... to reflect... to pray. I need You to speak words of life into my soul. To nourish me with Your Word... To patiently and lovingly lead me in Your everlasting way. You have my attention. I want to be all Yours. I'm listening now.

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