It has been one week since I arrived home from the Living Education Retreat. I have wondered a few times over the last week, what I would answer if someone were to ask me my big take away from the retreat. I find I have no easy, short answer. What I gained touched my soul deeply, and I find I simply cannot find the words to express it. But it is there just the same – just as strong as a week ago.
So instead, I will share a page from my journal written last Saturday afternoon right before our last session with Jason Fiedler. If you have not yet listened to Jason’s An Unpublished Trail Guide, I highly recommend you do. Listen, then listen again. And then listen one more time. No, I am not kidding. It is really that good.
I had enjoyed the retreat, the sessions, and the atmosphere of camaraderie among friends old and new, but it was almost over. I decided to use that short half hour before our last plenary to jot down a few ideas, thoughts, and principles on gaining balance that had started to come together in my mind. I had already accepted the fact that the pursuit of balance would likely require changes that would have to start with me.
I had finally found my moment of quiet.
These are my thoughts, quickly jotted down, while sitting at the picnic table on the hill directly above the chapel. I can still remember the gentle but steady breeze coming up off the lake that seemed to stir not only the air around me but my very soul. This is what I wrote.
- Develop a Rhythm/Pattern/Liturgy to the Day. My days cannot look all the same but there should still be some sense of ebb and flow, a pattern of consistency that weaves itself into the fabric of my life, almost like a repeated prayer. When examined up close nothing may be evident, but when taken as a whole a beautiful picture enfolds.
- First Things First – Quiet time, what is truly most important?
- What things can be cut? online time, time wasted on procrastination, outside activities
- Develop the Habit of Gladness & Gentleness of Words.
- Keep the thing the thing & the time allotted to the task to that time only and no more but no less as well. I find I often do something I should be doing but either I do it much longer than the time I have allotted or not long enough.
- Sabbath and Margin MUST be built into every day.
- Trust that the Holy Spirit will indeed equip where He has called.
- My oil will not run dry.
The story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarepheth came to mind, and I read the story from 1 Kings 17:7-16. It was a familiar story – one my dad read to us girls many times as children.
Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
As I read through the story of the Widow of Zarepheth again, I was struck that this woman was busy doing what she could with what she had. Her circumstances were dire, but she calmly carried on. Despite her bleak future, she obeyed. She was faithful. And she kept being obedient, trusting that God would continue to provide. She was faithfully obedient.
I often feel like I am pulled in so many directions. Many times I am simply just so very, very tired and plain old down-right weary. It seems like someone always needs more of me and that there cannot possibly be enough to go around. I find myself wishing my circumstances would change, that I would have either more or less of this or that. What I am coming to understand is that I am called to do what has already been set before me, as best I can, with what I have already been given or in some cases not given.
I am called to be content.
I am called to obey faithfully, and He will be faithful to supply enough oil for each day.