Sacrifice and Stillness

This morning, I got to give the club talk at the local high school where I lead Young Life. There, I visited with the most lovely of senior girls who are in a small group with me on Sunday evenings; the entire group of them are young women who certainly “do it all!” They are driven and beautiful and gifted and desire purpose and life and Jesus and friendship and maybe a hint of mischief too. They are working out what living life to the full with their faith at the center looks like; like all of us, this is hit and miss. There are so many demands, so many hats to wear, so many possible futures, so many pressures to fill every nook and cranny of their résumés . Sometimes their lives are so full that they cannot even do the things that are most restful and meaningful to them because of all the other stuff that masquerades as important. Sometimes I might not see one of them for weeks at a time, not because they don’t want to come, but because life has caved in. When the air finally clears, however, and they return to settle into my cozy living room, making tea and eating popcorn late on a Sunday evening, we all take a collective breath. We talk and pray and wrestle with doubts and fears and read and pray some more and at the end, no one moves for a while. We linger together, not wanting to leave that space that God so clearly inhabits when we are together.

I have been thinking though, about those spaces in between, when we go MIA from the things that fill us up… when life distracts us from life, you know?

And when we stay away from those really life-giving things for a while it seems to fade in our memory as to why they are important at all. We forget. And they seem to be just another colored block on the calendar that can easily be dismissed to catch up on all the urgent things to be done… and over time it gets easier to let everything else take over.

The world is so noisy.

I have been there.

I remember a time when I faded out… faded out from bible study, from volunteer leading, from meeting with mentors. For a while I ran on fumes until something in my spirit began to ache and I realized I had been tricked. I woke up from my busy slumber and found I was aimless and unfulfilled and I wondered what my brain was doing all day every day when it was concerned with everything but God.

This crazy circus we have been duped into starring in starts so young. And we beat ourselves up so much. We don’t talk very nicely to ourselves, and voices of condemnation drown out the voice of our savior that quietly beckons, “Come, you don’t have to do it all. In fact, you can’t.  And I know it.”

What if  we were to step away from the madness to sit? To write? To stare at the trees or listen to a concerto or to just be still?

What if we were to buck off all the stuff? It might even be good stuff. But what if we were to throw it off.  Not for always or for a day even, but just for a time. Whatever time would feel like a sacrifice. For some that might mean 5 minutes. Others it could be hours. Yet others a whole beautiful day. But what if we were to slough it all to stay in that space of surrender for just as long as it takes to start getting uncomfortable. What if we were to sacrifice all our doing.  And to worship for a moment the God who says he alone holds all things together. That in him alone we move and breathe and have our being.

What if we were to show up to the places where wisdom GATHERS and not where it scatters, as Lisa TerKeurst speaks of in “The Best Yes”… those places where we are reminded of the goodness of God, of his promises, of his constant presence. What if we were to marinate more often in the word of God and his still quiet voice instead of being battered by the abusive never-enough demands of the world?

On Saturday, I get to go to Montana and speak to a group of volunteer Young Life leaders, and I have been praying and listening for weeks about what God might have for them to hear. I will write more about it soon, but I have this deep sense it is about taking him at his word. I think that if we were to actually trust what he says is true, we would live very full, very exciting, very balanced, very risky, very unique and purposeful sorts of lives.

And we would get really good at slowing down and trusting that he actually has everything under control. And we would wake up every morning fresh and new because he says it is so. And we would not be so badgered by the voice of our enemies or the voices of the board members who sit in our head passing judgement on every action, thought, behavior.

HIS would be the only voice that gets credence in our lives.

Let’s be still for a moment. Let’s show up to the places that remind us of His promises, His ever-presentness. Let’s listen.

He is near.

 Be Still


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