Remember when we used to be bored sometimes? Maybe some of you experienced that during the pandemic lock down but for the most part we don’t know boredom. What I’m about to write might seem like a land full of magical unicorns but once upon a time…
When you were waiting for a class, a movie, or a long line you just had to wait. If you were desperate you had to talk to people, but nobody had a phone.
If you finished a book on a plane, then you were screwed.
If you parents forgot to pick you up then you just waited until they showed up two hours later.
My point is we don’t feel much of that boredom anymore. At any moment we can check social media, news, email, or shop for things we don’t need. In the book “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” John March Comer sites a Microsoft survey of young adults that said 77% answered “yes” when asked, “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone.” By the way nobody wants to go back to a time before phones or digital connection but all of it comes with a tradeoff. We were created to live our lives with space and some level of boredom. Times where we can stop, think, breath, and connect.
But in the pace of most of our lives there is no margin for any of it. No quiet, no solitude, no space. When we live at a pace where we never feel like we can be still, the first thing to go is awareness. Because awareness requires time and space. And without awareness we are not capable of fully processing the life we are trying to live – who we are, why we are here, and what is going on around us. The result is we are not being fully present anywhere and our relationships always suffer.
Here is where it connects to our faith if you are a follower of Jesus. It is killing our connection with God. Because like any relationship, it requires space, time, and presence. Stephen Covey said, “You can’t be efficient in relationships.”
One of the events I never understood in the Scripture for many years is recorded by Matthew after Jesus had this breakthrough moment when he was baptized by John the Baptist signaling the beginning of his public ministry. Mathew wrote, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (The Greek word “Eremos” means solitary or quiet place) to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him…” – Matthew 4:1
Now depending on your background, I get the whole devil things is weird. That’s for another email. The thing I never understood was why Jesus went directly into the wilderness after his huge moment knowing he was going to be tempted by the devil. All due respect to Jesus but it seemed like a bad strategic move. If you were to combine hunger, fatigue, desert, and devil for me then go ahead and bank on that fact that it’s going to end badly. The reason is “we think of the wilderness as a place of weakness” according to John Mark Comer. But it wasn’t a place of weakness, it was a place of strength. It was the most strategic decision Jesus could have made. Jesus knew that it was only after he created space to connect with God that he had the strength he needed to fight opposition.
One of the most overlooked practices in our journey of following Jesus is silence and solitude. We rarely talk about it in our culture anymore, but it is one of the most important keys to your spiritual, emotional, and mental health. Your daily life will war against this practice, but it is worth it. It is one of the things that has given me clarity in a season of so much chaos. This practice has been used to remind me of what is most important, and it has given me the sense of deep connection with my Heavenly Father.
So, here is my challenge for the next thirty days: Pick a time and space to just practice silence. It may be weird. You may even find that some of the external noise is what you are using to drown out the internal noise of insecurity, fear, comparison, and shame. But those are things God wants to reveal and heal as you create the space for it. What I’ve found is that as you practice this as part of the rhythm of your life God will begin to move, to clarify, and to heal.
We get to choose the level of relationship with God we want. We get to choose to prioritize practices that create peace and perspective. He will not force it on you, but his promise is “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” – James 4:8