There are days in our lives when we feel like all we do is copy and paste and then there are others that are so fast and furious we most surely believe we are running on spin cycle. At the end of these days, we often retreat to a brightly lit screen or we are so utterly exhausted that we fall asleep in our child's bed with a book laying on our stomach. Our generation is torn between hustle and monotony, busyness and boredom. Our breaking speed always leads to burnout and our lackluster routines result in binges.
There are other days, however, that take our breath away. These are the days that fill our lungs with a long, slow inhale and a delicious exhale. We notice the warmth of the sun, the whistle of the wind, and the wonderful feeling of grass between our toes. On these days, the schedule is not the law. Our hearts are filled with gladness, and as a result we smile more. We laugh. We play. We become people of wonder and whimsy, people of worship. It's moments like these in which we feel fully alive, present in the present, and truly at peace. These are the days that I'm working toward, the moments that I'd like to live more of this year.
It's easy to set goals to "live life to the fullest" but how does that look day to day, exactly? We can't escape into the wilderness from our work. Schedules are necessary. Planning and preparation are key to progressing in what we've set out to do for the day. Since birth, humans have thrived on rhythm and routine. We are people who work - we work at our jobs or at school, we manage our homes and nurture our children, we work out our bodies and we work at making our relationships count. As I've begun to recognize the necessity and beauty of work, I'm starting to understand that living life to the fullest is about carving space into our schedules so our day is not quite so full. We need space to breathe, space to notice, space to listen to our bodies, our hearts, and our people. These moments might only be for five minutes but they are five minutes that we can't afford ourselves to miss.
As I've looked back over my journal, a word that has emerged from the scribble is tired. If you've been reading my blog for a while, I'm sure you've noticed this theme too. My weariness has been a result of not getting enough rest, saying yes more often than no, and believing that I was capable, I think. I'm finally at a place now where I can see how feeling tired has cost me the joy that is to be found in living well. I'm ready to move forward and enter into the land of the living, fully present and aware that life is a gift worth noticing and celebrating. This life doesn't always have to be shared on Instagram or written in a blog post. Instead, it is an invitation into a relationship rich with nourishment and wells filled deep with water. It's as the psalmist writes:
Pursuing goals is not a bad thing, no, it's a sign of passion, purpose, and promise. However, pursuing goals with a performance-based heart only leads to ladders that always have another rung to climb. This is not how we were made to live. Quite honestly, we were made with very basic needs - we need to be fed, we need a home, we need a mate, we need to work, sleep, and play. Just watch an episode of Planet Earth and you'll be amazed at how complicated humans have made our lives out to be. We were made to give God glory for the work that He is doing in our lives, not for us to work in order to receive His praise. God sees us, knows us, loves us. He doesn't need our performance. God created us to be in relationship with Him, and to have life abundantly. I'm sad to admit it has taken me years to believe that God is abundantly good to me. But He is, and He's abundantly good to you too. Eugene Peterson remarks that we enter into the land of the living through "silence and a waiting, attentiveness and adoration, a letting go and simply being here."
To let go seems very disorderly but it is how we walk before the LORD in the land of the living. When we let go, we allow the Holy Spirit room to move within us. Letting go leads to prayer and prayer "cannot be done in a hurry, it can not be forced into a schedule." Prayer opens up our insides, it leads us into this land that is worth living in. Peterson writes that, "Prayer is not a way in which we order things; it is a way in which we become ordered." Yes.
What do we let go? We let go of fear, anxiety, and worry. Or, we let go of control, expectations, and plans. We let go of our full schedules for what is only essential. We let go of our ideas so God can form our desires into something good and pleasing to Him. We let go of the people who bring us down and hold fast to the people who fill us up. We let go of pride, privilege, and presumptions. We turn away from our computers, phones, and televisions, and turn toward our people or our pillows. We step away from our desks and go on a walk around campus. We eat food that nourishes us instead of allowing us to be temporarily satisfied. We kneel, we fold our hands together, we breathe in and out.
To walk before the LORD in the land of the living, we must let go of some of these things yet also recognize that heaven has come down and God walks among us. God's presence is here, now, with us as we pack lunches, wake up to alarms, and move throughout our day. He is with us as we wash dirty dishes in the sink, deal with a disgruntled client, or have a massive deadline to meet before the day ends. We don't stop living to enter into the land of the living. We just let go of the things that need to be released so our souls have more room for the Wind to move within us.
Question: What do you need to let go of this year to enter into the land of the living?
*I'm currently reading As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson and find myself underlining almost every other sentence. Quotes from Peterson in today's post were taken from this book.
**Over Christmas break, our family spent the day at Callaway Gardens for the Festival of Lights. These pictures were taken from that trip. I highly recommend taking a trip to this place to see God's beauty in nature!
What if, for 21 days, you focused on what God wants for your life? If you accept this challenge, you will commit to praying with the purpose of learning how to have an undivided heart for God in a very divided world. Are you in?
If your answer is yes, you are invited to join us in Undivided Prayer, a twenty one day prayer challenge where you will ask God what His plans are for you.
Our 21 Day Prayer Challenge will be a daily devotional that you can use to study during Lent. This challenge will feature a key verse, beautiful image, and a short devotional.
We will begin on Friday, March 1st and be sharing online every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until Good Friday @undividedwomen.
To go deeper, we encourage you to download our digital workbook or purchase our beautiful spiral bound workbook that features all of the above plus daily challenge worksheets that you can print out and write on. These challenge worksheets truly help you make the most of your prayer challenge by keeping you accountable, tracks your progress, and allows you a space to dig deeper in Scripture. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Dothan House of Prayer.
"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name."
- Psalm 86:11