Bringing Health Back


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Some time back, I read this great little piece of dialogue in a George MacDonald novel:

“I said, ‘But there is so much to be done.’

‘That is all very true, but you need a change. It is our best work that he wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. So many seem ambitious to kill themselves in the service of the Master—and as quickly as possible. Come with us to God’s infirmary in the country and rest for a while. Bring back health from the country to those that cannot go to it.” (MacDonald, George. The Musician’s Quest. Ed. Michael R. Phillips. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1984, p. 252-53.) Buy this book

This dialogue from a George MacDonald novel speaks to the profound need for Christian leaders to give good attention to their own souls in the midst of the work of God. I long for leaders to learn that even when there is so much to do, there is always time for unhurried communion with Christ. If we are so busy with the work of God that we haven’t time for the face of God, then we ought to re-evaluate whether it is actually the work of God we are doing.

I long for Christian leaders to learn that perhaps what people need most from them is not more work or ministry jobs, but more rest, more direction into intimacy with Christ, more spiritual substance. Where will leaders find such substance? One place is in the Sabbath places of lingering with the Lord.

 

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An Autumn Prayer


(Would you share via Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites about my book, An Unhurried Life? I have a nice little thank you for three of you who do who’ll be chosen randomly on September 12 evening to receive a signed copy, as well as a copy of one of my favorite out-of-print books. Click to learn more)

We’re not quite at Autumn yet, but I always feel the draw of fall once I pass Labor Day and enter a new school year.

One year ago, this was my autumn prayer:

A Prayer for Fall
I want You
      and yet want so many other things.
But only one thing
      is needed.
Only one thing
      can be at the center.
Focus my heart and mind
      on You as the One.
Reweave the frayed edges of
      my will, my mind, my heart.
Make me whole and holy.

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Do You Really Want to be Well?


In my reading and research today for my “Unhurried” book project, I came across this good word in Joan Chittister’s Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, which is a thematic commentary on the Rule of Benedict.

“The ancients tell the story of the distressed person who came to the Holy One for help. ‘Do you really want a cure?’ the Holy One asked. ‘If I did not, would I bother to come to you?’ the disciple answered. ‘Oh, yes,’ the master said. ‘Most people do.’ And the disciple said, incredulously, ‘But what for then?’ And the Holy One answered, ‘Well, not for a cure. That’s painful. They come for relief.’” (Joan Chittister, OSB. Wisdom Distilled from the Daily. New York: HarperCollins, 1990, p. 128.)

Ouch! How often am I coming to Jesus, settling for mere relief, when I could actually be healed. Relief is good, but usually temporary. Being well is longer lasting and more deeply rooted.

Do you want to be well?

Ministering From Solitude


“Solitude spiritualizes the whole [person], transforms [them], body and soul, from a carnal to a spiritual being. It can only do so in the Spirit of Christ Who elevates our whole being in God, and does not divide [a person’s] personality against itself like those false asceticisms which St. Paul knew to be enemies of the Cross of Christ.” (Thomas Merton. Disputed Questions. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1953, 1959, 1960, p. 172.)

True Christian spirituality unites our inner life and outer life. False ascetisms dis-integrate us, body from soul and spirit. We look down on the body and idealize our false vision of the inner life. Spirituality is embodied. Spiritual practices involve our body, some more obviously than others.

Solitude makes us holy as a being alone with God, not as personally directed privacy. Isolation is not solitude. Me alone with myself isn’t sanctifying. Alone and apart from God is not a place of life. Alone with God is.

Reflection Questions:

  • Think about recent times when you’ve been alone. At what points did you feel alone for yourself (privacy)? At what points did you feel alone with God (solitude)?
  • How would you describe the difference between these two ways of being alone?
  • How is God inviting you to moment alone with Him day-to-day? What would energize, encourage and refresh you alone in His presence?

(Repost from April 2010)

Ministering From Solitude


“Solitude spiritualizes the whole [person], transforms [them], body and soul, from a carnal to a spiritual being. It can only do so in the Spirit of Christ Who elevates our whole being in God, and does not divide [a person’s] personality against itself like those false asceticisms which St. Paul knew to be enemies of the Cross of Christ.” (Thomas Merton. Disputed Questions. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1953, 1959, 1960, p. 172.)

True Christian spirituality unites our inner life and outer life. False ascetisms dis-integrate us, body from soul and spirit. We look down on the body and idealize our false vision of the inner life. Spirituality is embodied. Spiritual practices involve our body, some more obviously than others.

Solitude makes us holy as a being alone with God, not as personally directed privacy. Isolation is not solitude. Me alone with myself isn’t sanctifying. Alone and apart from God is not a place of life. Alone with God is.

Reflection Questions:

  • Think about recent times when you’ve been alone. At what points did you feel alone for yourself (privacy)? At what points did you feel alone with God (solitude)?
  • How would you describe the difference between these two ways of being alone?
  • How is God inviting you to moment alone with Him day-to-day? What would energize, encourage and refresh you alone in His presence?

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A Good Word: What is Intimacy?


I pulled a couple of excerpts on the theme of intimacy from Hands & Fehr’s Spiritual Wholeness for Clergy. I’d enjoy hearing your responses and thoughts. Make a comment, would you?

“Eric Berne calls [intimacy] a candid and honest emotional exchange (Berne, 1964). He maintains that there are only three possible human transactions: pastimes, games, or intimacy. Pastimes are routine, superficial remarks. “How are you?” Games are the many dishonest manipulations and hidden agendas among people. The only emotionally honest and candid interchanges are called intimacy.” (Donald R. Hands and Wayne L. Fehr. Spiritual Wholeness for Clergy. Herndon: The Alban Institute, 1993, p. 37.)

Think about recent conversations and interactions. How much time has been spent in “pastimes”? In games? In emotionally honest and candid interchanges?

“Etymologically. the word [intimacy] itself comes from the Latin word intus, meaning “inside”; its comparative is interior, meaning “more inside”; the superlative is intimus, meaning the “most inside.” The Latin word intimus, therefore, can also mean “best friend.” The whole series denotes depth and interiority, a sharing of one’s insides with another.” (p. 37.)