“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1
I didn’t recognize my own symptoms. After three weeks of summer travel and a jam-packed schedule I finally had a morning home without guests in our home or an early morning meeting. After a three week hit-and-miss pattern of morning devotions, I plopped in my chair to meet with Jesus. As I began my morning liturgy, “O Lord, let my soul rise to meet you as the sun rises to meet the day,” I became suddenly aware of my rapid heartbeat and pounding pulse. I could almost hear its alarming rhythm. With heart disease I my family, an unceasing, accelerated heart rate is never good.
The last several weeks had clicked off at a staggering rate, and now my depleted body was letting me know this had to stop. Someone has said…“If you don’t give our body its Sabbaths, your body’s own system of checks and balances will take them back.” I sat quietly for a few minutes trying to regain a normal rhythmic pattern but there was no calming my runaway heart.
The thoughts that gripped me the most in that moment was, How long has that been going on? How long has my body and soul been on overdrive and racing out of control? A week? Two weeks? Three weeks? What if I hadn’t created a space in my life this morning? What other symptom (heart attack, anxiety attack) would have exposed the desperateness of my condition?
My rapid heartbeat told me more was going on beneath the surface of my life. Living at break-neck speed had made me desperately in need of rhythms different than my drivenness. What those quiet moments offered me was the opportunity to pay attention to the condition of my soul, my body, yes, but also my soul. Our soul’s well being is guiding and causing everything that matter the most to us. Yet in the midst of a busy life, we can neglect the thing that matters most.
Author Nick Ross notes, “When the soul of a person (‘that which is essential’) is left behind, when we forego a language and appreciation for soul—when we no longer know or are able to stop long enough to let our souls ‘catch up’—the consequences are devastating. The soul of a person, as every poet knows, needs to speak, to muse, to consider and reflect if it is to be well, if it is to act as it should, as a guide for what is most important in our lives. It’s not a matter of indulgence. It’s a matter of sanity.”1
Solitude with God offers us a place that is sacred and inviolable that cannot be touched by outside suffering or pain. This inner sanctuary where God dwells and is known by us is where we keep those precious things that make life worth living, despite pain, despite loss. It is the place where we hang our hat of faith and hold on to hope. It becomes the place where we can pray. It’s where we can enjoy God. It’s where we hear his voice speak to us. It becomes the place where we surrender our lives to his will and purposes. This is a place where we recognize God working below the surface of our lives; it becomes a place that can survive unfulfilled longings. It is a place which recognizes small signs of God’s activity in our lives; a place which embraces and recognizes divine appointments, opportunities for grace, and God-ordained, God-infused moments.
The incredible thing is this: when we do stop long enough to look around, we see God (and life!) in a way that the busyness of our day does not permit.
 Nick Ross, “In the Shadow of VUCA: A Call for Soul and Sanctuary in Leadership.” Nick Ross LinkedIn Blog. May 11, 2016., accessed December 18, 2016. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shadow-vuca-call-soul-sanctuary-leadership-nick-ross.
What might this kind of stopping and rest look like for you today?
How might you disengage from the break-neck speed of your life and create a different rhythm, a different space, in the routine of your day?
© Gail Johnsen 2018