Sometimes it seems like there is so much trouble going on in the world that even the news media can’t stay on top of it. What used to be a 24 hour news cycle seems to be getting compressed into a 10 minute media cycle with something new and tragic being broadcast immediately via every possible technological medium. We no longer have to wait to hear about anything and if we don’t check out the latest news website or news text service on our smart phones, we begin to feel out of touch. Who knows, we might even miss out on some late breaking event, because as soon as it is reported, something else will become the new headline. This culture of constant updating and fixation on what has just happened can be overwhelming and often lead to a lack of reflection and introspection. Who has time to sit back and evaluate anything these days in a culture that values only what is instant and immediate. At times like these, the Bible calls us to be like the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.
As I came back from England a little a week ago, I realized that I was not taking time for the proper care of my own soul and that only by stepping back and evaluating, not simply obsessing about the latest data in front of me would that begin to change. So here is part of my game plan for the next few weeks:
1. Taking time for long walks – far too often, I have taken walks simply for exercise and not for the purpose of soaking in the beauty of God’s creation around me. This simple activity is a great way to clear my head and to listen to what God might want to say to me in these moments.
2. Claiming the promises of God – each day, I am going to take time to read, (possibly memorize) and speak God’s promises for my life and my family. By doing so, I will reorient my day to the truth of His words and not the accept the report of the 10 spies that had nothing good to say about the promised land.
3. Reading biographies of the saints that have gone before me – reading the new biography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas has reminded me once again of the richness of our history as believers and the faithfulness of our God. In the midst of the horrors of Nazi Germany, there were people willing to stand up for truth despite the consequences. These types of books fill me with hope that God has an answer for even the greatest evils our world faces on a daily basis.
4. Making time for wise counsel – as life moves as the speed of light, the urgent often crowds out the important. It is so easy to be swayed by the loudest or most frequent voices in our lives rather than seeking out the counsel of God’s chosen servants. It is critical for me to seek out the wisdom of counselors who are not always the most vocal, but may have the most important information that I need to hear.
5. Learning to laugh when I really want to cry – a pastor recently reminded me of the teaching of Watchman Nee about the way that God designed seeds to grow. First they have to be in the right soil and then they have to have the shell broken so that the seed can begin to develop into the plant or tree that it was created to be. Often it is what is in the soil that helps to break open the hard shell. In my life, it is almost always the hardest things that God uses to produce fruit for His glory. At some of the darkest times in the life of my ministry, God has allowed me to share a humorous story with someone about events that were not always so funny at the time they took place. These stories bring joy to my heart and remind me that even in my most difficult moments, God is still working out His purposes in such a way that I may even be able to laugh about them in the future. I am so glad that I serve a God who has a sense of humor.