For years, I lived by the philosophy of doing, even in Christian ministry, which through a Sabbath year discovered is very normal in faith development. It was a constant thinking pattern of what is the next book to read, event to plan, retreat to coordinate, sermon or Bible study to write, leadership training to plan, or conference to attend? Those things are very well, but there comes a time to switch to a lower gear, and begin to be present in more of life with intentionality and authenticity in order to listen to one’s soul than being in a constant mode of “doing” alone could dream to offer. The questions begin to change; In whom am I investing? What is the state of my relationships in authentic, sometimes messy community? And what is the current state of my soul? The focus changes from the outer world to a well-ordered and nourished inner one that allows one to engage both heart and mind unified in daily living and coincidentally have greater external influence.
Living in a philosophy mode of “doing” often equates to missing out on the present moment, not fully engaged in living each moment as a gift and learning to savor and find God even the bitter ones, knowing that it’s not the end, but an ingredient that can be used to make something beautiful (Romans 8:28).
It takes honest self-actualization and reflection to access the current state of one’s soul and without it, one can miss out on the joy in the journey of growing in faith. Consider this an invitation for quiet reflection on the steps to the shore…
1. Do you feel like a biome of a desert or tropical rain forest, or perhaps a valley with a fresh spring of quiet waters (Psalms 23:3)? The Holy Spirit may lead one into any of these seasons, but it is critical to observe the signs of the season in assessing the state of one’s soul.
2. Does life seem to be abundant and lived in the present or more like going through the motions?
3. How is self-care; regular sleep rhythms, movement, and nutritional choices?
4. Are relationships in family and with others less than intentional?
5. Does your energy feel like something to be hoarded or is there an avoidance of some situations or relationships or even desiring to escape the present situations?
6. Is there any hint of personal possessing of what God has entrusted rather than seeing it as a gift in which to be nurtured and cared?
7. Are there feelings of isolation without authentic safe relationships who understand and are able to confide?
8. Are there others whom are intentionally considered mentors who pour into your life?
Imagine a beach, a quiet shore with the ability to sit, reflect, be, commune with God in silence…
Going a bit further where the waves ebb and flow on your feet would represent your roles in life, being a spouse, parent, friend in this season.
Going out even further where water is treaded represents others to whom you give, job, ministry, volunteer work. Staying too long in treading water in the deep will exhaust the best energy and reserves and leave nothing for that quiet time on the shore with God or the splash on the feet with family.
Are we serving and giving to our family and others from a rested place?
In order to do that, patterns may have to be changed; giving yourself permission to say “no,” a season to take a “Sabbath space” for the bare necessities in life when our souls become so depleted and learn to sit in his Presence and tend to the bare minimum of roles as transformation takes time.
May each season be embraced, each moment savored, and the beauty of transforming grace be a one that radiates from within.