Friday, June 15, 2012

focus, young padawan!

"The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees."  Brother Lawrence


Recently I have been so ready to come back to some form of simplicity in my life.  This life is a busy, noisy place for most people, and my life is no different.  With 8 people living in our house right now (including a sweet and happy newborn-not mine!), there is not a lot of time when it is completely silent or calm.  With two churches moving along and good things happening - one of them being 20 miles away - we are often on the road and visiting with people.  And with the continued raising support to head to South Sudan, there is a lot of planning and talking and visiting and educating happening there!  I love this - sitting still has never been a strong point for me!  But it also causes me to focus more on the constant buzz and action around me than on the still, small voice calling out within me.  I don't need help with chaos - I have a good handle on how to make that happen!  I need to learn how to tune it all out and to be able to hear that voice amid all of it.  


Brother Lawrence tells of washing dishes and being in a constant state of communion with God;  a tranquility that comes in the middle of menial tasks and noise all around that is as real to him as when he is alone and on his knees.  


Now here is the problem for me...even when I am alone and on my knees I have trouble focusing!  The quietness might last a good 30 seconds - then I hear something downstairs, or a shopping list comes to mind, or a remembrance of a recent event, or a blog post (yikes!)...and my ability to hear Him is gone that fast!  After a few moments of daydreaming, I realize what I'm doing and, again, I focus my thoughts on Him and Him alone.  Maybe through a song or through a repeated phrase.  I'm drawn into His presence and know a moment or two of complete peace and joy and a holy silence.  And then, BOOM, as quickly as it comes-it's gone again.  Sigh...if I have this much trouble alone and in a completely perfect setting-how can I do this in the middle of dishes, driving, teaching, disciplining, paying bills, writing notes, planning the calendar?  


It's a discipline.  There is something about that word and it's connotations that we hate.  Right now I am counting calories - I HATE that discipline.  I much prefer to eat what I want when I want without thinking about it.  But that has lead to a life (and a body) that is not in the best shape it can be.  Before it gets more out of control I am choosing to learn some real discipline.  Exercising and losing weight will not only make me look better, but also make me actually be healthier and live a life that is able to do all He asks without the hindrance of the extra weight.  


It's the same way with spiritual disciplines.  It's HARD!  I am realizing that nothing about the the spiritual life and a walk with God is really easy or natural.  That's not to say it isn't worth it, or I would change it - but we definitely do not sell the "whole package" to the non-believer!  Yet in that hardness there is rest and joy and peace and a wholeness that cannot be experienced any other way.  It means a chance to do all that He asks without the hindrance of the extra weight in so many other ways! 


So I am learning new habits - both in the physical sense and the spiritual sense.  They are so tied together, really.  Do I belong to this world or to Him?  It's really quite simple. Join me in this adventure?