What My Monday Soul Needs to Know

My resolution for Monday:

1chronicles

Photo by just2shutter; 123rf.com

To breathe in and breathe out, deep taking in of peace and pushing out of contentment.  No catching my breath in anxiety, hyperventilating stress, and rushing to the point of breathless exhaustion.

Just breathe.  Move through the day without giving into the push, push, push of “faster, more, do, accomplish, check off the list, get it done.”  Walk as I vacuum, walk as I put away the clothes.  Make that phone call without simultaneously folding underwear and t-shirts.

And spend time with Jesus for relationship not for task-completion.

The temptation is there, of course.  It’s the curse of Monday.  All of the spillover from last week, the messages to read through and answer after taking a Sabbath from all of that “connection” over the weekend, and the new tasks ahead clamor at me for attention.

What was that email I needed to send?
Wasn’t there someone I needed to call?
Was I behind on my reading, my commitments?
Didn’t I need to print this for the week and pack that for tonight and fill out that form and mail back that letter?

It’s a million tiny things nipping at the heels of my Jesus-focused life, yipping and yapping until I turn my attention from Him.

And then when I do sit down to rest at His feet, dear Father, oh my Father, I am so thankful to be in Your presence ….

Still I fail.  Still I pop up every few minutes for the ding of the laundry and the starting of the meal, and the reminder of something else needing to be done.

My time with Him becomes stilted, becomes stale, becomes necessary without being the fresh oxygen in my soul I need for very survival and beyond that, the abundant life He promises.  Necessary only because it’s an assignment, like homework for school.

It’s more like: Read the assigned Bible reading.  Check.  Read the passage in the study for this week’s group discussion.  Check.  Complete the other Bible study . . . while interrupted and racing against the clock:

Must…..finish…..so…..I…..can….check….this….off…..my…..list….and……do…..other…..things.

I wonder if He’d prefer if I just skipped it all rather than flop down at this kitchen table half-hearted and thinking about 50 things clearly more important than He is to me in that moment.

This isn’t relationship.  This is business.

In his book, Prayer, Richard J. Foster wrote:

“Today the heart of God is an open wound of love.  He aches over our distance and preoccupation.  He mourns that we do not draw near to him.  He grieves that we have forgotten him.  He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness.  He longs for our presence…

We do not need to be shy.  He invites us into the living room of his heart, where we can put on old slippers and share freely.  he invites us into the kitchen of his friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun.  He invites us into the dining room of his strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight….” (p. 1)

Maybe that’s my problem.  I’ve been barely acknowledging His presence at times at my kitchen table.  Perhaps I should take up His invitation to hang out in His kitchen.  To eat in His presence and share in good company and the intimacy of friendship, not on my terms, but at His offering.

At the Last Supper, the apostle John leaned against Jesus, drew in close and rested against the Savior, even while realizing that Jesus was about to be betrayed (John 13:25).

Why be more like Peter, who in shame and frustration, perhaps even anger at the destruction of his plans and agenda, certainly in fear…”followed him (Jesus) at a distance” (Matthew 26:58) after Christ’s arrest.

Sure, I’m always following, I’m a faithful kind of girl, trailing after God always.  But sometimes I’m just stepping into the imprint of His footsteps rather than walking by His side, following out of obedience only, mostly out of distracted busyness and duty.

This year, I’m pursuing the presence of Christ In August, that means I’m learning to say, ‘no.’  I’m saying it today: “No” to the stress of do and do.  “No” to hyperventilating heaviness of breathless rush.

Today I resolve to breathe in and breathe out, to linger here at the table with Jesus and lean into His presence.  No rushing up from the meal to pursue my own agenda.  No skimming through the page of Scripture to get to the end of the assigned reading.

Leaning into Jesus.  Breathing in and breathing out.  Then walking side by side with Him into my day, not tripping along behind: holding His hand and chatting along the journey.

Originally published October 15, 2012

Social Media Fasting and 5 Ways to ‘Unplug’

Social Media

One day a week, the earth manages to keep revolving right along on its axis without me.

It’s a blow to my pride, perhaps, but surely that’s the point.

I began a once-weekly social media fast a little over a year ago. The constant connection, constant pull, constant noise, constant interaction of this always-online world was crushing my introverted writer’s heart.

So, once a week I shut it down and shut it out. It’s a way of fasting, going without so I can re-focus on God.  I have the time then to be still and rest in His presence, time to enjoy family and beauty.

And, I miss out on a crisis or two of Facebook drama.

But the world goes on.

I’m reminded that:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-4 ESV).

He may have been talking to Israel about golden calves and bronzed images, but I know this means electronic gods, too.

This world has become so noisy and information-heavy.  How would we even know if God is speaking to us?  We’re far too busy and surrounded by noise to notice.

John Piper said, “One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that our lack of prayer was not from lack of time.”  He called social media the acceptable addiction of our modern society.

Facebook?  Twitter?  The Internet in general?  Texting?  We shrug these addictions off as simply the way of things in this modern world.

So I rebel against modern convention.

I unplug and walk away and let the world keep going right along without my heavy-handed involvement.

This month, I choose to be more purposeful about this social media fasting.  In my 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, I choose in March to ‘unplug.’

I’ll continue my social media fasting and intentionally fill that space with Him.  I will linger in His Word, enjoy His creation, rest with my family, read a good book, bake some bread, knit a scarf, play a game with my kids.

I will unplug from the noise and plug in to the essentials and what really matters.

On the warm days, I’ll pack my baby into the stroller and stride down the Main Street of our town.  Without a smart phone or texting plan, I will revel in the quiet.  I will think, pray and notice the beauty of the clouds, the flowers, the trees all over again.

Maybe this month you can join me in choosing to unplug at least one day a week? Here are some possibilities:

  1. Social media fast:  One day a week (or more), leave Facebook and Twitter and the world of social media alone.  Replace that time with something soul-filling.  Walk, pray, read, rest, play, build relationships face-to-face.
  2. Bible Before Computer: Put your Bible over your computer keyboard at night so that in the morning, you are reminded to read the Bible first before getting online.  You’ll be much more successful at this if you have to physically remove your Bible before typing on the computer!
  3. Put the Phone Down: Choose times to give the smart phone or texting a rest.  Maybe: No texting during meals.  No smart phone during Bible studies, in church or during your quiet time.  Set a goal and then stick to it.  People can wait an hour for you to text them back.
  4. Set a Timer: The Internet has a way of sucking us in and taking far more of our time than we intend (or maybe admit!).  Try setting a timer for how long you want to be online.  When the timer dings, you know to stop.
  5. Take a day off of television: Turn off the TV.  Choose a worship CD or Pandora radio station with worship music and enjoy some alone time or family time without the television.

Perhaps you’ll be surprised at how hard this really is and that’s a good discovery.  It means you’re rooting out that addiction and that idolatry and that’s painful.  It burns deep to deny our flesh.

But we’ll be drinking deep of what truly satisfies, the Living Water that our parched souls are panting after, instead of trying to quench our spirit thirst with brine.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1 NIV

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1 NIV

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Unplug’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King