It’s early morning.
The sun is peaking up over the trees and you can still see the morning mist as the dragonflies dance their way through the air.
It’s quiet save for the birds calling back and forth to one another.
The earth almost feels like it’s stretching its arms out and rubbing its eyes with hope of a new fresh day. I am a spectator with my coffee cup in hand.
I’m not on vacation. I’m just in my backyard. Because a while ago, I had to make a choice to start my days differently.
Don’t get me wrong I love a great vacation getaway. There’s not much better than sitting on a beach in Mexico on the third straight day of doing absolutely nothing but reading and relaxing.
But we all know that isn’t a sustainable reality. It always turns out that life awaits us back at home.
If we pattern our lives to burn hot, run hard, sleep less, and work more until we get those three or four days of relief, we just won’t make it.
We must create space in the rhythm of our lives to slow down, because life won’t do it on its own.
I feel the gravity of all of the responsibilities that are coming my way afresh each morning.
I live and die by a to-do list that keeps me on track.
And if I don’t start my day off with some silence, it would be like heading out on a run as soon as I’ve finished lacing my shoes! I have to stretch first. I have to warm up my muscles.
To face each day, I have to warm up my heart, my mind, and my soul.
These intentional moments of quiet are a countercultural enigma that have lost their place in the rhythm of our culture.
I realized I needed it. But in the busyness of life – the necessary demands of being a husband, a full-time member of a church staff, and a father of seven kids — I didn’t set the bar too high. I just decided to leave myself the first moments of each day.
I wish my daily view was a white sand beach, but my regular place of solace and solitude is my backyard.
Even if you had the means you couldn’t fly to the mountains every morning, So you have to carve out a little space that’s readily available and easily accessible. My wife and I have spent meticulous time to create a space that just oozes peacefulness.
So, every day I start with a cup of coffee and without a phone. I allow myself a notebook in case I get a song idea, a prayer, or a story, but it’s intended to be a space to unplug. It definitely makes the parenting world more manageable before I take that deep breath and walk back inside.
As Christians we pattern our lives to be “like Christ,” and to do so we look at how he lived.
In Luke 5:15-16 we see this rhythm of solitude in Jesus’s life. At this point in Luke’s account, Jesus had been doing those things only he could do, and there was a growing buzz in the area about him. He could have easily run harder into his work, leading his disciples and new followers, but verse 16 says, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
Jesus could have kept healing and teaching, but he knew he needed the encouragement, the rest, and the renewal from the Father that happens in those quiet moments. And if we make time for them, we will see the same things.
But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.
— Luke 5:16
There have been songs that we sing at church that have taken root in those early morning moments of quiet.
One morning about a month ago, God brought to mind an old college friend of mine. I called him up and it so happened that he had just had to check his spouse into a facility because of suicidal thoughts. We spoke on the phone for about two hours, after we hadn’t spoken in 20 years. We laughed a little, we cried a lot, and we picked up where we’d left off.
God also uses these quiet times to show me my own blind spots. If I didn’t set that moment aside I would walk immediately into the white noise and static that fills my day, and never stop to think, or to talk to God about what was going on in my own heart and mind.
So maybe just take one step that way. It doesn’t need to be a yearlong vow of silence. Just lean in the direction of God and give him your first breaths.
See what he does in you.
I promise you won’t regret it.