Recently I had an opportunity to “get away from it all”. I always love getting away to the beach and escaping for a little while from my daily duties. I was so looking forward to being still and drinking in the silence. I needed to rest, to have time to reflect, and to journal. It had been a really busy school year for me and the summer was going to be chock full of activities, as well. So a time for quiet reflection really appealed to me and was desperately needed. However, my “retreat” was not what I expected it to be. The majority of my time was spent trying to quiet my mind. I found myself to be terribly distracted and unable to let go of the things of this world. I never thought that calming my thoughts and finding some peace would be so challenging. How was I ever going to hear the voice of God amid the noise inside my head? It took a good two days to decompress but the process was only partial. I left my place of solace slightly frustrated, knowing that I needed more time but time had run out. What had happened? Why was that longed-for tranquility unable to easily enter into my spirit? Have you ever experienced this?
I wonder if the world and all of its lures and attachments have become so deeply entrenched in our lives that we are not even aware of it anymore. The noise of television, radio, 24 hour cable news, ipods in our ears and frequent cell phone conversations can easily drown out the whisper of God. Our schedules are jam-packed with each day’s activities. We drive around trying to avoid traffic jams, taking the fast lane so we’re not late for all those appointments. Clients are demanding, the children are late for ball practice, dinner is a fast food frenzy and well, you name whatever is driving you crazy today. This, I am sure, is not the abundant life that we are meant to be living. So, is the world in direct competition with God? Sometimes I wonder who’s winning that battle in my life. Actually, “battle” is the perfect word. I feel like I have to fight for my time with the Lord. If I do not have my prayer time with Him I feel confused, irritable, angry, and generally unhappy. Those things are in direct contrast with the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
In order for us to be able to bear “fruit” in our lives, our garden must be tended to. The soil of our hearts must be patiently tilled, and the rocks and hard clumps need to be removed. So that we can produce a healthy crop, much time, hard work, and care in the spiritual field must be put forth. Otherwise, the weeds will take over and we are left with nothing.
I think a good interior exercise might be to look deep within ourselves and see which fruit tree is producing a less than bountiful harvest. Then that is where we need to put our best effort. Is my patient tree sparse? (It usually is) I must then look for the opportunity to work in that area of the garden. I know that God will always provide lots of opportunities.
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, my soul is longing for more of You. Help me to be aware of what areas in my life are crowding You out. Remind me to turn off the radio in the car, to take one night off from TV, to enjoy dinner at the table with my family, to take a few minutes to read something spiritual and encouraging. The world and all it’s noise and busyness will always be there. But I value and cherish those quiet moments when I can sense Your presence. I don’t need to go away to the beach. I simply need to spend more time in my garden.