I’m posting this at 12:30 in the morning from New York City where I’m getting to bounce my new grandson on my knee. What a joy it is to see him face-to-face rather than via Facetime. He’s such a delight, and I can’t wait to see him grow over the years to come. He and my granddaughters are the reason I’m writing this book, and I hope they will benefit from it long after Pop is gone.
Thanks for being so positive about my posts. I hope they will continue to be helpful to you. I’ll see you next week with two new posts.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Never stop praying.
–1 Thessalonians 5:17
Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.
If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life. You’ll always be a little too tired, a little too busy. But, if like Jesus, you realize you can’t do life on your own, then no matter how busy, no matter how tired you are, you will find the time to pray.
–Paul E. Miller
Each day, regardless of your circumstances, I want you to take time to “get away from the maddening crowd,” quiet your soul, and prayerfully connect with God.
There are two major mistakes many of us make when it comes to this important issue in life. One is to be around people too much, stay as busy and distracted as possible, and disconnect from God in the process. The other is to have very little to do with others, be overly detached from the world, and spend so much time focused on God that we end up “so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good.”
Munchkins, I want you to try to find your sweet spot in all this. If you’re the kind of person who likes to be around people all the time, I want you to appropriately decrease the amount of time you spend with others, get away by yourself more often, and spend more time praying throughout the day in an effort to connect more deeply with God. If you’re the kind of person who would be happy to spend all day by yourself, I want you to appropriately increase the amount of time you spend with others, get away by yourself a little less often, and spend more time praying throughout the day in an effort to connect more deeply with God.
Related to this, I read an interesting article a long time ago that described how Jesus went through His day. The author (whose name I can’t remember, otherwise I’d give him credit) suggested that Jesus started His day in a lonely and quiet place with God the Father, followed that by spending time with His inner circle, the disciples, and then spent time with the crowds who were following Him. Jesus’s relational pecking order was God, inner circle, outer circle.
I’m sure there were days that Jesus didn’t do things in this particular order, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was how He typically conducted Himself while He was here on the planet. I also wouldn’t be surprised if after being with the crowd Jesus spent some additional time with His disciples and then ended the day back in a lonely and quiet place with God the Father processing what He had gone through. If that was the case, Jesus spent His day in the following manner: God, inner circle, outer circle, inner circle, God.
I hope you will practice the same relational pecking order Jesus did by beginning your day with God the Father, spending time with family, interacting with the crowd, spending time with family, and finishing the day with God. If you do, I believe your life will be so much more emotionally, relationally, and spiritually healthy and that your energy level will be renewed each day in ways that will surprise you.
Easier said than done, right? If you’re like me, you’re dog-tired in the morning and don’t feel like getting up early to spend time with God. If you’re like me, you’re dog-tired in the morning and don’t feel like interacting with your family on the way out the door. If you’re like me, you’re dog-tired throughout the day and don’t always feel like serving the crowd that’s banging on your door. If you’re like me, you’re dog-tired when you get home and don’t always feel like being around your family, the people you love the most. And, if you’re like me, you don’t feel like ending the day interacting with God about how your day went.
Nevertheless, whether you feel like it or not, please try to live your life the way Jesus probably lived His—God, inner circle, outer circle, inner circle, God. Do whatever you can to get out of bed early enough to go off to a quiet place and spend time alone with God. Before you go to work, connect with your family, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes at the breakfast table. At work, pour yourself out as a drink offering to the people who need your help. Once you come home, reconnect with your family even if it’s just for fifteen minutes at the dinner table. Finally, before your head hits the pillow, withdraw to a quiet place and finish the day by prayerfully debriefing with God.
I wish I had practiced what I’m preaching here sooner in my own life. When it comes to my advice that you “withdraw and pray,” I’ve spent most of my life workaholically focusing on the crowd first, giving the leftovers to my family and friends second, and then having very little if anything left for God third. My relational pecking order up until the last few years had been outer circle, inner circle, God. All this pattern led to was a life of exhaustion, guilt, and watered-down relationships with all three.
Do yourself a favor, munchkins. Start your day with God, follow God with your family, follow your family with those who need your help, follow the people who need your help with your family, and end the day back in the loving arms of God. You may be surprised how much more energy you’ll have for living life in an abundant manner.