Calm After the Storm
As I write this I have just concluded a very full fall season of travel, speaking at conferences, organizational leader team meetings, debriefings – you know the drill. Note I did not say I was busy. Years ago I determined to no longer live a “busy” life. There will be intentional seasons that are full and demanding. We are indeed called to give our lives away. I seek God specifically for how, where and for whom he asks me to do that. In my walk with God there is a big difference between full and busy. Full is by design and intention. Busy, for my heart, is distracted, mindless, and numbing. By design, this full season has left me feeling emotionally thin, physically tired, and longing for spiritual refilling. This is a good tired having done the work God has asked me to do.
A prolonged full season is then followed by a short time of backing off for renewing, reflection, evaluation, and preparation for the next full period.
December is one of the periods where I back it off a few notches. This is not a holiday time of no work. I am still available to people and doing normal office work. But it is a different kind of work that personally allows God to refill my tanks so I have him to give away in the next full season. I am seeking him to fill me so that he might overflow through me in the months ahead.
Principle: Repeated Times of Renewal
Research has shown that one of the life patterns of those who finish well experience repeated times of deep spiritual renewal throughout their life. Each of us are different, so renewal comes to each of us differently.
One way God recharges me is when I have time to read, think, reflect, evaluate, plan, pray, study Scripture in depth, and pray and ponder some more. I also take a day or two to get immersed in creation beauty. Every year, in December, I am given a deep drink of Living Water when I change up my routine and wait on him. This is an active waiting.
When are your annual seasons of creating time to allow God to provide you with deep renewal? These times are crucial to walk and finishing well.
Reflection is a Key Way of God Teaching US
I have written on reflection before. December is a time when I relook at my calendar, the meaningful books I have read, the direction I have received from cherished counselors, and read the past year’s journals. I am intentionally slowing down to reflect. What I am seeking are themes and patterns to discern what God is teaching me and where he is at work in my journey. I am also seeking clarification on where he wants me to invest in ministry. I desire to be receptive and responsive to him. This is one way I make space to allow that guiding and clarifying and renewing work to happen. The themes that emerge become prayers for the next year:
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
How do you seek regular seasons of renewal? What do you do during those times? Maybe your practices will be a fresh path for someone else. Thank you in advance for encouraging me with your own wisdom and for sharing with others.
I recently found your blog and find it contains many life-giving bits and pieces. Thanks!
This season I’m preparing for an event where I will give out a lot, and the Lord graciously revealed to me that the best way to be prepared is to make sure that I’ve rested well beforehand, so that I can be alert and sensitive to his Spirit. Therefore I’m now planning for an extra half day a week that’s blocked out only for Him. I try to be creative with that time: take walks with a sermon in my earplugs, reflection in the sun on my balcony with a good cup of coffee, arts&creativity, worship etc.
After 7 years on the field I’m also planning for my first longer Sabbatical away, and am currently looking for a Sabbatical coach. I’m really excited for this time as I sense God is calling me aside to be with him. But I’m glad for the reminder in this post to keep my expectations leveled and be attentive to the Spirits agenda.
Thank you for sharing your own ideas and rhythms. I love your idea of an extra half day a week to intake for the upcoming season of giving. May the Lord lead you to a great sabbatical coach. When my wife and I were on sabbatical we had a “sabbatical group” three other couples who met with us monthly to listen to our musings and reflect to us what they were seeing and hearing. They were propounding encouraging and helpful.
Thank you for sharing, very encouraging and helpful. SS