Best of Daily Reflections: What Helps You Pay Attention to How You’re Living? Part 3
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Last week, we began focusing on the first part of Ephesians 5:15, “Be very careful, then, how you live.” This verse urges us to pay close attention to how we’re living, rather than walking through life with our eyes closed. In a couple of last week’s reflections, I suggested ways we might put the counsel of verse 15 into practice. First, we can pause briefly throughout the day, noting how we are “walking” rather than just barreling ahead at full speed (9/3/2014). Second, we can develop the discipline of taking time each day to reflect with the Lord on how that day has gone, perhaps using the Examen as a tool for reflection (9/4/2014).
Today, I’d like to add another suggestion. It’s a simple one, really: Go on a retreat. Now, I’m not talking about what we Christians sometimes call retreats, times away that are filled with activity, times that leave very little time for personal reflection and rest. Rather, I’m thinking of retreats that offer freedom, that are structured to help you step back from your life and prayerfully consider how you’re living.
Yes, I am thinking about retreats at Laity Lodge. You might well have guessed this, since I was once the director there and since Laity Lodge is a sister program of The High Calling, both children of the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. One of the things I love most about Laity Lodge is its fifty-year tradition of giving people the space they need to reflect and be restored. Laity Lodge retreats offer plenty of activity, but each participant is encouraged to take the time they need for rest and renewal.
Of course, Laity Lodge isn’t the only place where such retreats are possible. No matter where you live, you’ll find options not too far away. And, if there isn’t an official retreat center nearby, you might want to get away on your own or with a couple of brothers or sisters in Christ. The point is to get distance from the routine of daily life in order to gain perspective, to lay out your life before the Lord and listen to what he has to say about how you’re living.
I know that some of us have such busy lives it’s hard to imagine getting time away. But, even a half-day of quiet reflection at a local park can allow you to slow down enough to pay attention to how you’re living, not to mention listening to the voice of the Lord. Even if you have to schedule something months in advance, I’d urge you to do it.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you think of a time in your life when, in a retreat setting, you were able to see your life more clearly and to hear the voice of the Lord more accurately? When was the last time you had such a retreat? When might you be able to get away again?
PRAYER: Gracious God, I know how much I need time away, time to rest, to unwind, to be quiet, to reflect, and to listen to you. Forgive me for filling my life with so much activity that I often have no time for an extended Sabbath. Help me, Lord, to set aside enough time away from my daily routine that I might be able to pay attention to how I’m living even as I pay attention to what you want to say to me. Amen.
The Power of Storytelling
A note from our managing editor: When my children were young, telling stories at bedtime was always one the best parts of our day. I usually read stories straight from a book. But, my husband made up stories to tell the children and those stories continue to show up in conversations, even now that our children are adults. Stories are powerful, and we may tend to forget that as we grow up and move on into board rooms and classrooms and carpool lanes.
What can a story provide in a board meeting that facts and figures alone can't accomplish? How has storytelling improved relationships among coworkers, especially coworkers whose faith is different from mine? What are some of the best stories ever told in the workplace, and why did it make a difference? Why is it important to be able to tell a good story and what is a good story anyway? In the series at The High Calling, we take a look at The Power of Storytelling in the workplace. Pull up a chair and join us in the conversation.