Doing Nothing with God
Last Sunday, I asked the Sanctuary congregation to please, if at all possible, do a whole lot of nothing this week. That is, "enjoy a time of doing nothing with God." The context was Acts 1, in which Jesus instructs his followers to stay in Jerusalem and "wait." We learned from Acts 1 that communion with God comes before mission. In fact, mission flows from communion. Waiting on God means enjoying communion with him. It's the foundation for our mission.
Waiting with God can be tricky, so I wanted to say a bit more about it. First, when we think of waiting, a picture might be helpful. Let's think of Mary in the "Mary and Martha" story in Luke 10. Here's the story. Read it, and then I want to ask a quick question.
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" 41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Now here's my question. At this moment, with whom do you relate – Martha or Mary?
To be honest, as I write this, I relate to Martha more than to Mary. Susan has been out of town, and my days race by as I play Mr. Mom, pastor, and do the extra things it takes to move into a new house. So as I read the story in this present moment, when I am wondering how I am going to knock things off my to-do list today, I have to be honest and admit, "I need to hear what Luke is saying. I am in Martha's world, and I need to get to Mary's world."
But how do you do that when you have a mountainous to-do list that isn't going away?
Here are two quick thoughts. First, blend, don't separate. Don't get fooled into thinking that we face an either-or choice – either get things done or commune with Jesus. As the monastic fathers and mothers teach, communion with God is at its best when we are carrying around an awareness of God that often runs in the background. It's like the operating system on your computer. It is constantly running. It enables all your other software to run (like your browser, which you are using to read this blog post). Your computer doesn't function if your operating system isn't running. Ideally that's where we want to get to with this awareness of God. It's always running.
It can take years to get to the point where an awareness of God is running all the time. If you aren't there yet, then try it for the next 5 minutes. See if you can maintain an awareness of God's presence and involvement in your activities for the next 5 minutes. If you didn't do so well, try to do better the next 5 minutes. It's like that. Take one small chunk of the day at a time. That's how the great people of prayer throughout history have reached their legendary relationships with God – by sticking to a commitment to take small steps.
Second, grab moments. There are many little breaks throughout the day when we have a few seconds or a few minutes of down time. Instead of grabbing your cell phone to check texts, email, and Facebook, grab some of those moments to say a few words to God. "Thank you for being with me right now" is a good place to start. Or "I just want to tell you again that I love you." Or "thank you for your constant love." Or "did you see what just happened?" Or whatever you want so say. The point is that sometimes our awareness of God will run in the background, and other times we bring it into the forefront and talk directly to God.
Doing nothing with God means simply exchanging love with him. Receive love from him and express it back to him. Try it! It will renew you.