This past Saturday, my wife informed me that one of our friends from church had offered to take the children for a few hours so that she and I could have some free time together.
In the past, this hasn’t always been the best way to spend quality time together. Normally, after a few busy and chaotic weeks, when someone offers to watch the children, we would use the free time to run back home and start cleaning the house or work on completing the projects we had been putting off.
In all honesty, we really do try hard to be those parents that keep a spotless house –– you know, the one with no clothes in the laundry baskets, no dust to be found, and always in visitor-ready condition. I’d say impossible, but my mother used to be that type of parent.
Nevertheless, we seem to fall short in this area. Does this affect our ability to be hospitable toward unexpected visitors? Absolutely not! We work as a team and get it together. Generally, greeting you warmly at the door, my wife will distract you with offers of coffee and dessert, while I frantically straightening up the house, beginning with the bathroom, then the laundry room, into the living room, throwing toys into the foyer from the floor, swooshing dust bunnies under the sofa, making myself ready to greet you, panting and sweating. When you ask me why am I out of breath, I might make some excuse, saying something like, “Oh I was just getting in some exercise.”
So when my wife told me the kids were going to a friend’s house for the day, I assumed that it was going to be another work day. We dropped the kids off and ran back home knowing we had enough stuff to do to fill up six hours easy. Yet, something about the day said, “No, it can all wait.”
We had been home for maybe 20 minutes when I walked into the kitchen and my wife looked up at me and closed the computer. Sighing deeply, she looked around the house and asked, “What needs to be done?” Now I knew we had a couple of loads of laundry needing folding, and a sink of dishes needing washing, as well as dusting and vacuuming that had been neglected for some time. We looked at each other, taking note of the bags under our eyes, and the sheer exhaustion of a busy work life on our faces, knowing the list of chores was long.
I couldn’t bear the thought of it any longer. Throwing caution to the wind, I said, “Nothing! Absolutely nothing needs to be done, let’s go for a ride.” The look of shock that came across her face was hilarious. Smiling ear to ear, she jumped up cheering, “Let’s go.” We got into the car and for the next five hours we did absolutely nothing –– but that nothing meant everything.
I confess to you that the ride we took was amazing. After driving around town for a bit, we headed out to Potsdam and bummed around. The ride out was great; it seemed liked we talked about everything and nothing at the same time. We laughed, joked, giggled and teased the entire ride. We communicated and connected in a way that seems to elude us when the busyness of life pushes in. It was so refreshing just to be able to talk, hold hands and sing goofy songs with the radio. That would never have happened if we had stayed home and done the “responsible” thing.
Make no mistake, what we did actually turned out to be the most responsible thing we could have done.
A similar thing happened to me on a spiritual level, helping me to reconnect with God in a deeper, more impactful way.
We must come to understand that busyness doesn’t just affect our home life, it can also affect our relationship with God. As a pastor, I cannot tell you just how busy and crowed life can become. Not only do we juggle the church, its operations and its spiritual wellbeing, but we are continually called upon to counsel and minister both from within, as well as from without the church walls. The ministry is truly a 24/7 vocation.
You may think it strange but even pastors, who are doing the work of the Lord, can find themselves so busy that they allow their closeness and intimacy with God to slip.
As a Christian, my source of strength, peace, and spiritual wellbeing is closely tied to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. It is vital that I prioritize staying close to God. He has promised the Christ follower that He will never leave us nor forsake us. We know that to be true. However, we also know that a relationship is never one-sided. Do we not have a role in this relationship? When we start drifting away from our duty and responsibility to maintain and nurture that relationship, we will start feeling the negative effects of our actions.
God never drifts away from us; we drift away from Him, and consequently, our spiritual well-being sufferers. Irritability, discontentment, anger, lack of peace and more can creep in and steal your Joy in the Lord.
I have personally experienced this. Just recently I realized I had begun feeling a bit cynical, and yes, even a tad irritable. I blamed it on the lack of vitamin D and a little cabin fever caused by the North Country winter. However, it was nothing more than I had allowed myself to become overly busy, and I had let my devotional life stall a bit. It took God giving me a few sleepless nights to recalibrate my focus.
This bout of insomnia was highly irregular for me. Normally I sleep like a brick. Yet, during those sleepless nights, the Lord began speaking to my heart that I had been filling my days with everything but Him. Yes, I was serving Him, doing His work, but I wasn’t connecting with Him. I was in desperate need of a little bit of “Nothing!”
Just as the “Nothing” my wife and I shared had been so restorative, the “Nothing” that God would schedule at 2:30 in the morning would be even more restorative. I had allowed life to get in the way of my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I was doing everything “right” while neglecting that which was most important.
During those sleepless nights God reminded me of how I used to lose myself to the reading of His Word. I wouldn’t just read to have a message to preach on Sunday; I would lose all track of time when reading, as if walking with Him through the history of faith. That had always been my source of joy and peace.
He reminded me that I wouldn’t just pray out of obligation. No, I would cry out to Him until He answered. I would daily walk with Him in our spiritual garden and we would communicate. Those sleepless nights of doing “Nothing” became everything to me. They reminded me that, “The Lord is MY shepherd and I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me besides the still waters.” Those sleepless nights forced me to do nothing but rely on Him.
Friends, do you need some sleepless nights? Do you need to remember with longing the Joy of the Lord? Dive back into the beauty of His presence and embrace the only relationship on this earth that truly satisfies the heart and soul. I pray that you have a wonderful weekend and please schedule some time to do “Nothing,” seeking what the Lord has in store for you. Allow God to revive your soul.
God Bless you as you reconnect and have a great weekend.