I was sat this morning amongst some trees behind our house, with the sun warming my face, a cup of coffee, my Bible – and the kids making dens in the bushes around me.
Other mornings I sit in an armchair that used to be my Granny’s – by the window in my room – looking out towards these trees – and read my Bible, and write down the things I’m grateful for.
There is something life giving about taking these times, hidden away from the general hubbub of life – re-fuelling rather than giving anything out. Silence and solitude are both important and valuable spiritual disciplines for growing closer to God – Jesus often went off by himself to speak with his Father.
And I’d encourage you – if you do find yourself on your own a lot more at the moment – to explore and find ways of putting these disciplines into practice.
BUT often, and for many of us at the moment, this may seem like an idealistic and impractical proposal. I can barely record this without kids screaming in the background, or shouting for me to come wipe their bum, get them a drink of water or mediate an argument.
One of the women I look up to is Susannah Wesley – mother of the preacher John Wesley and the hymn writer Charles Wesley. She had 19 kids but only 10 survived childhood, an often absent husband who repeatedly got them into debt, and she was ill for a lot of her life. Twice their houses were burnt down by people who were angry at her husband… If anyone had an excuse for not spending time with God it was her.
And yet she is well known for having made her children aware that when she covered her head with her apron she was not to be disturbed – she was praying. Perhaps the fruitfulness of her sons was a result of her prayers for them…
What’s more, is that I think when we are busy, when we feel overwhelmed (whether that be due to kids, work or myriad other things!), THAT is precisely the time when we need to come and spend time with God. It is so easy to get distracted, for any of us to meander off the best paths for our lives if we lose focus on the one guides us on the right paths…
David – another person who had a crazy life, with enemies trying to kill him, hiding in caves, fighting wars, leading a country with all kinds of problems – wrote Psalm 32.
It’s a Psalm that talks of the weight of life, the lack of peace when we are not in the right place with God. And how when we take the time to come to him, to say sorry for where we’ve wandered away from him – he forgives us. But it doesn’t end there, once we are in the right place with God, when we choose to come to him he becomes our safe place.
We’re not promised a life of comfort and safety – but we are promised this relationship which will always be our hiding place however much chaos is going on around us – in verse 7 David says:
“You are my hiding-place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)
This seems too good an offer to refuse! Will we carry on letting the weight of our lives drag us down, or will we choose to come to him and be open with him – whatever chaos is going on around us – even if we have to throw a cloth over our heads to block out the sight of everything around us – day in, day out – will we choose to hide in him – to breathe in – so we have the oxygen needed to keep going on the right paths?