Making Space for God
It’s true—in our culture, we are constantly moving from errands to work to events to meetings for those events. In the midst of that, we’re processing information almost constantly. A quick search online suggested that on average we encounter 3,000 advertisements per day. That’s just advertisements. It doesn’t include the information we receive from the plotlines of books, television shows, or movies we see, news articles or research we read, or even phone conversations we have.
In his book, Out of Solitude, Henri Nouwen describes the need for a break from the busyness. He cites the times that Jesus himself went away to a lonely place or found a space to pray in quiet, such as the Garden of Gethsemane. Nouwen points out the peace and rejuvenation found in these quiet places enables energized re-engagement in a busy and demanding world.
Last week, I went on a one-day retreat at St. Norbert Abbey in DePere, Wisconsin, with a few other pastors our area. I discovered for myself what Nouwen was talking about. This day away took me into solitude—into a space and time dedicated to spiritual care.
Our morning consisted of caring for our bodies and minds as we swam and talked. After lunch, each of us went off on our own to simply be. The Abbey had rooms for each of us, as well as prayer spaces and a sanctuary to wander around as we prayed, read, journaled, or listened.
I spent my afternoon reading the book of Matthew—all of it. I have to admit that this was something I hadn’t done since I graduated seminary. About an hour into reading, I began understanding more of the narrative of the gospels again. I got to see again how the birth narrative of Jesus Christ flowed into his first miracles, how his miracles enabled his teaching, how his teaching brought others in to follow him. I began to catch once again the nuances of the inclusivity of Jesus love and ministry, and to understand the magnitude of his death and resurrection.
Something else happened during this time as well. I found myself slowing down and taking time to listen and ponder God’s presence. When I left at the end of the day, I was more at peace and ready for the following week than I had been for months.
It can be very easy to lose ourselves in the midst of the busyness of our world—to go from event to event or from task to task—but we need time with God as well. We are coming into the Season of Lent, a time of intentionally existing in God’s world and God’s presence.
As we enter this season, I encourage you to ask yourself where and when you can make space for God. Whether it’s through volunteering or time at church, daily reflection and prayer, Scripture reading, or even taking a walk in God’s creation, find time and space to intentionally rest your spirit and encounter God’s presence and guidance through the Holy Spirit.