I'm in the midst of March Madness right now, the annual championship basketball tournament for division 1 colleges and universities. I love to watch the games in the pressure packed environment the tournament creates for players, coaches and fans. Being a basketball coach, with a family history of basketball, it is fun and intriguing.
I find myself watching how coaches use their time outs. What I'm noticing is that quite often the time out is used to slow the pace of the game, gathering the team's bearings on what is happening; to reflect and refocus their rhythm for the game.
I think this is exactly what God wants us to do with our lives on a daily basis. He wants us to "be still and know Him", be still to know ourselves and be still so that we can know and understand others. We can't do this "knowing" in the hurried life pace most of us fall into in American culture.
So...we need a "Time Out". I know I need a "time out" from the the whirlwind of things I deem important in my life. I know I need a "time out" when I feeling easily distracted and finding it difficult to sit still just to be with Jesus. I read this today on Pete Scazzero's blog...
Dallas Willard calls silence and solitude the two most radical disciplines of the Christian life. Similarly, Henri Nouwen wrote that “without solitude it is almost impossible to live a spiritual life.” In solitude, we separate ourselves from people and things in order to attend to God. In stillness, we quiet every inner and outer voice to listen for God’s “sheer silence.”
Silence and solitude are probably the most challenging and least experienced disciplines among Christians today. We live in a world of noise and distractions. Most of us fear silence. As we’ve experienced in many of our own church services, studies confirm that the average group can only bear fifteen seconds of silence.
And yet, in Psam 37:7a, Scripture commands us to “be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.” It also calls us to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a). Though it’s a struggle, waiting for God in the midst of silence ushers us into His restful presence. For Elijah and for us, the silence after chaos abounds with the presence of God. He spoke to Elijah out of the silence and He also speaks to us.
For me, I get busy meeting with people, preparing for small groups, mentoring, daily home tasks, occasional substitute teaching assignments, trying to stay connected with other via social media, etc., etc. The list can be endless. I can easily separate spirituality from life. I miss the reality that my life journey into loving well must emanate from silence and solitude, time spent with Jesus.
My experience is that silence and solitude are the most challenging disciplines, as stated above. I'm taking a small step into practicing silence today with the quiet that comes in the morning when I wake up. This new beginning will begin on the day we celebrate Christ and His offer of new life, a fresh start that comes from His love, acceptance and forgiveness.
Vic and Monique
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