“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7)
As we approach the slower rhythms of the summer season, I have been thinking about what it means to wait upon the Lord. What does it mean to, “Be still and wait patiently”? During the summer it is my prayer that each of our Corpath members will get an opportunity to step away from the relentless flow of workplace responsibility. To step away in order to enter the quiet place of waiting patiently upon what the Lord wants to say to us during this slower time of the year. As you consider your opportunity for spiritual reflection, let me share 4 themes from Gary Thomas’ book, Seeking the Face of God, (pp. 107-118) that are helpful for cultivating spiritual simplicity and entering quiet reflection before God.
A CAPTIVATED HEART – BE GOD FOCUSED. Thomas notes that a basketball player who shows up tired for a game because he ran a marathon in the morning would get a rebuke from his coach. In like manner, we have a responsibility to conserve our physical strength for the right activities & priorities. Those we are called to serve – our God, our families, and our boards, expect us to conserve our energy for what really matters.
If I am consumed by political events, sporting events, social commitments and the flow of business responsibilities to the extent that I have squeezed all the time margin out of my life, I may exhaust my heart’s ability to care about the eternal things that really do matter. Augustine, in his Confessions, admitted to this in his early life, “Thus with the baggage of this present world was I held down pleasantly, as in sleep.”
This Summer season is an opportunity to give up things that are keeping you from being captivated by God.
A BRIDLED TONGUE – BE QUIET. Thomas points out that a wagging tongue is proof of an overly busy mind. The ancient writer John Climacus advised his community that, “A man should know that a devil’s sickness is on him if he is seized by the urge in conversation to assert his opinion, however correct it may be.” One mark of the man or woman who has achieved spiritual simplicity is a listening heart, not a lecturing tongue. This leads to the next act of simplicity…
A LIMITED CURIOSITY – BE SELECTIVE. This is a discipline that I struggle with. I am a news hound and enjoy reading and following newscasts on world events. But at some point, this can lead to an unhealthy obsession with the need to be “in the know.” Gary Thomas states, “We have to realize that we don’t need to know all that we want to know; we need to cultivate the discipline of letting go of cares that don’t concern us. Even in a simpler age, Thomas a Kempis wrote, “How can he abide long in peace, who thrusts himself into the cares of others… who seldom concentrates his own thoughts?”
Our instant information age of Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere of the internet bombards us with up-to-the-minute details of many things we simply do not need to know. Engagement with this constant flow of trivial information can weigh us down with transitory matters and push out time for reflection upon spiritual matters of eternal importance in our businesses, family, and personal lives.
SLOW RE-ENTRY AFTER PRAYER – BE MEDITATIVE. The goal of spiritual simplicity is communion and relationship with God. In today’s busy culture we think 15 minutes every 24 hours is sufficient to nurture our spiritual life and then wonder why we feel distant from God. Often times, in my own devotional time, I am prompted by a spiritual truth or idea and then rush into my day and it dissipates like a morning mist under the bright sun. I need to be reminded that spiritual truths, when first birthed, are fragile. And, as Gary Thomas points out, an overly busy mind will choke them out just as weeds choke out flowers.
When you rise from a time with God, rise slowly and reverently. If an idea has come to mind during your communion with God, record it briefly in a journal. If this is done regularly, and you make time to review your journal, you will see patterns of promptings from God that you might otherwise not have seen.
Henri Nouwen, the Catholic spiritual writer once wrote, “I enter into solitude in order to serve the multitude.” Nouwen understood that If you constantly serve the multitude of staff, customers and suppliers with no discipline for simplicity and solitude you will quickly arrive at a spiritually unhealthy place and feel distant from God.
What better time to begin to practice these 4 themes of spiritual simplicity than the summer months?
John Wiseman – Corpath