The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Book 1 -Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life
Chapter 20 Of the Love of Solitude and Silence
Quiet. Peaceful. Relaxed. Worshipful. Forgiving. Hopeful. Growing. Joyful.
Hurried. Anxious. Stressful. Busy. Prickly. Frustrated. Tired. Drained. Replete.
What makes the difference? It can be found only in slowing down enough to have time to quietly spend alone with God. I know in my life when I’m busy doing good things I can still find myself worn out, grumpy and tense at the end of the day. Every time, without fail, it’s a direct result of my rushing here and there and not hitting the pause button. But, when I do prioritize those still moments, I find I am full and energetic and my character is more like Christ. One thing I reflect on at the end of the day is what I accomplished. But, more importantly, I’ve recently begun to ask myself if the fruit was fruit of the Spirit was evident in my life today. If I find myself answering no to that question, I know I need to reevaluate my priorities for the next day.
How do I find the time? Good question. I often ask myself the same thing. Kempis encourages us to eliminate trifle conversions, idle goings and gossip. Since he probably wrote this in the 1400’s, I can only imagine his shock at the speed life goes in the 21st Century. I don’t know what it is for you, but for me, I’ve found there is a fine line between facebook being a great means to encourage others and keep up with distant family and friends and being “idle goings” as Kempis would say. Same thing with surfing the web. I can jump on looking for one answer and find an hour slips away while I justify it in my mind as doing, “important research”. Honestly, if either or those activities or many others that I face each day left me refreshed and recharged that would be one thing. But, they don’t.
Ok. So now we’ve established it is important and talked about how to find the time. So, what does quiet time with God look like? It most certainly looks different for each person and even each time. For me, I have a chair in my bedroom. Nothing fancy, just a place that I can go and close my door and shut out most of the noise of the day. Worship music, reading Psalms back to God, writing out prayers, journaling, reading and praying all fill me up and energize me. I have a friend who years ago encouraged me to keep a log of all the verses in the Bible that talk about who God is. That has been a tremendous source of blessing and encouragement to me over the years. Experiment, find out what works best for you.
If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I encourage you to hit the pause button on your life for a few minutes, hours, days or even a week (a week at the beach is an awesome yearly recharge!) You will find you get more done, more effectively and enjoy doing it more.