SNOW HAS A WAY OF DOING SOMETHING MAGICAL TO YOU. I’m not talking about snow flurries. I’m talking about a LOT of snow. The nearly 30 INCHES that fell the day before yesterday – all in one massive purge – left our family and many others completely snowbound, unable to go anywhere or do anything other than shovel snow, recover, make a toboggan run, eat, spend time together and repeat. But the snow has also has given me ample time to be with no one other than myself. Herein lies the problem. There are painful joys in being snowbound.
Sometimes I like myself. At times, I even like myself a bit too much. Then there are other times when I don’t like myself at all.
“A sail is a poor excuse for travel if the wind is wanting.”
Being snowbound means the usual ability to get out and move about is shut down. Completely. Never mind the milk and eggs, honey. This means I will definitely run out of distractions – those things that subtly take me away from living the kind of life for which I was designed, and destined, by the Almighty. With all this snow and time on my hands, I have lots of distraction-free time to get back to the business of life – the only one I’ll ever get.
“As a Christ-follower, I must wrestle – really wrestle – with the culture of self. And, I must wrestle it to the point of daily extinction. If confession is good for the soul, I’m now immersed in a lake of God-inspired goodness.”
I tend to think too much of myself. Accordingly, I get in my own way. Actually, I get in God’s way a great deal, as well. Who needs the devil when we can be our own worst enemy? It’s easy to do in a culture where each of us is encouraged to be center stage. But culture doesn’t make it right. As a Christ-follower, I must wrestle – really wrestle – with the culture of self. And, I must wrestle it to the point of daily extinction. A Christ-follower is to run counter culture.
Do I truly care about my two boys – to the point of being emotionally engaged in the interests, hurts, fears and thrills that eleven and nine-year old boys experience? Do I care to the point of being so engaged that it will make a difference for them when they become young men, middle-aged men and perhaps even old men, long after I’m gone?
What about my wife, who sacrificially gives herself to both of them, and me, in ways that only a wife and mother can appreciate? Do I truly care for her at an emotional level, and put myself aside so that she can be a lot more successful, in ways that would not be possible if I were not around?
“A reflective, repentant, renewed and refocused life is a powerful weapon in the war against mediocrity.”
Though solitude and self-examination can be painful, they can also be LIFE-savers. I’ve found that it’s leading me to the feet of Jesus in a bit of confession. Well, let me be brutally honest – a lot of confession. If confession is good for the soul, I’m now immersed in a lake of God-inspired goodness. It’s agonizingly beautiful. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians so many centuries ago is so excellent for us in these hectic times:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV, italics mine)
What about my church? It’s so frighteningly easy to go through the motions of ministry without being moved by the Holy Spirit.It concerns me so much that with nearly each passing year I reach the conclusion that this year will be the unique year. Thiswill be the year when I truly begin walking with God, listening to Him, surrendering fully, and allowing Him to carry me along with the ease at which Philip was blown into the path of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). And then the snow comes, and I am reminded of how much the sail of my life needs the wind of the Holy Spirit. A sail is a poor excuse for travel if the wind is wanting.
“It’s so frighteningly easy to go through the motions of ministry without being moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Yes, ma’am, when a soul has nowhere to go but within, a soul sure does think. There are so many distractions I’ve not only allowed in my life, but also welcomed, that I have forgotten the painful joys that can only be found in solitude. Solitude helps us reflect, repent, renew and refocus. A reflective, repentant, renewed and refocused life is a powerful weapon in the war against mediocrity. I’m sure this is not only true for me, but also for you. It’s true for all of us.
We could all use a bit more solitude and self-examination. The interruptions of life can be welcome interruptions if we see them as God-given opportunities to get back to what LIFE – the only one we’ll ever have this side of eternity – is all about.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? HOW’S THAT SOLITUDE THING GOING? HAVE YOU WELCOMED DISTRACTIONS INTO YOUR LIFE TO SUCH A DEGREE THAT YOU’VE SETTLED FOR A LIFE THAT’S FAR BELOW YOUR GREATEST POTENTIAL – AND GOD’S GREATEST DESIRE?