So my hubby and children are a part of a Daddy/Kids camping group. Once every 3 months or so the dads plan, buy for, pack up, and take all the kids camping for a weekend. There is usually some sort of ceremony or intentional devotional time planned. It is impressive. Now, for the 48 hours before they leave it is a hot mess. There are late night trips to the grocery store (for them), a million texts going on, trailers, bikes, tents, sleeping bags pulled out and packed up. There is confusion about who is riding with who and who is in charge of breakfast. There are heated moments of, “what do you mean she doesn’t have water shoes that fit?” etc. There has literally never been something I am more glad that I am not a part of. But, as crazy as it is, the moment comes when they all load up and pull out like a caravan of loud, excited, over-packed banshees and….SILENCE. They are gone. I AM ALONE IN MY OWN HOUSE. I cannot express to you how strange and wonderful it is. It takes a few hours to really let it sink in that no one is going to call my name when I get in the shower, or that I can turn on whatever show I want, or I can eat food without someone asking for it.
The other wonderful thing about these spectacular little weekends is that many of my friends’ hubbies and kids are a part of this camping group as well- which means that they are all alone too!!! This obviously means that none of us will be alone for long- but together! Dinner reservations are made, wine and cheese evenings are planned, movie tickets are bought. Watch out world! Last weekend was one such treasure. I struck the perfect balance of silence and conversation with friends, of alone time and tribe time, of relaxation and productivity. Because the weather was going to be warmish I invited the girls over for a little lunch by the pool on Saturday. I scrubbed the lounge chairs for their inaugural spring lay out session, and wiped the table clean of a winter’s worth of grime. Yay Spring!!!! Everyone came over with fruit and chicken salad, chips and dip, mimosa fixings…. You would have thought we were at a 5 star resort and not the Ranchito. Lunch and drinks in hand we proceeded out to the pool… Now, when I say warmish you have to know that way out here in West Texas, Spring is always accompanied by wind. Lots of crazy, dusty, stupid wind. We braved it. We sat out in that sunshine and ate our girly lunch and drank our girly drinks and ignored the wind and the little chill it brought. We did it for the sun.
Oh, the sun. We have a long and wonderful relationship. In my Floridian, beach living youth I made an Olympic event of laying out and I was a gold medalist. I used to play on the softball team just so I could roll my sleeves up, spray some lemon juice in my hair, and get some sun. I was known to wear a bathing suit under my church dress just so there was less hassle in getting to the back deck. I currently own more swim suits than I do pairs of shoes. I have a T-shirt that reads, “I just want to drink coffee, save animals, and take naps.” I haven’t taken a nap since I was 4… I wish it said “and lay out.” I adore that first sting of sunburn every year. Now, I know about all the dangers of too much sun. I have replaced my baby oil with SPF (6?). I take precautions with the kids (at least in May). I know. But, oh the sun. It’s good for the soul if not for the wrinkles. Sometimes a little fresh air and Vitamin D is all you need to turn a day around. I’m telling you, I don’t care if your hair is newly colored and styled, your outfit is super fab, and your makeup is perfect… nothing beats the rose the sun will put on your cheeks. It’s amazing what a little sun can do.
So here is the obvious and cheesy cross-over. It is also amazing what a little bit of Son can do… See what I did there? As in, it’s amazing what a little bit of time with Jesus can do for your day, your week, your countenance. Do you make it too difficult sometimes? I know I do…. It seems that the biggest buzz word of the last few years is intentional. I got nothing but love for intentional. If you throw the word intentional on anything it takes it to another level. It seems we are to be intentional with our time, our words, our food, our bodies, our relationships, our holidays, our kids’ education, our finances….. ALL OF IT! And we should be… no doubt because THIS IS IT! Yes for all the intention! But sometimes it feels a bit weighty, doesn’t it? I can certainly bring this burden into my relationship with Jesus. I have been known to be reading so many books at one time that I can’t keep them straight. I am a bit of a sermon junkie and can listen to entire series in the span of one week’s worth of ironing. Bible studies? Bring them on!!! And have you seen the new journaling Bibles? I will now need a whole new Pinterest board for this phenomenon!!! And art supplies! A new plan for scripture memorization? I’ll take it! One for the kids? Yes! A great marriage devo? I’m sure we have time to be intentional with that….
In all of that I can become a little like my legs in February… pale, sickly, and ugly. I can gain a lot of knowledge but do you know what I really need? A little bit of Son. Currently I am crushing on a monk from the 1600’s named Brother Lawerence. (I told you I am a nerd). He was the unknowing author of a treasure called “The Practice of the Presence of God: The Best Rule of Holy Life.” I say unknowingly because this little book is a collection of letters and conversations he had with a friend which he never intended to be read by anyone else. In fact he even says in one letter, “I must tell you that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed on by your importunities: and now I do it only upon the terms that you show my letter to nobody. If I knew that you should let it be seen, all the desire that I have for your advancement would not be able to determine me to it.” I doubt very seriously he would love to know I am quoting him here on my little blog in 2016… Sorry Larry. Anyway, Brother Lawrence’s life was one of simplicity and devotion (Proskartereo, anyone?). It turns out that he worked in the kitchen at the monastery… I can relate. He was noticed and sought out by others because of his complete contentedness and joy within his mostly mundane tasks. It was said of him in one of the “conversations” in the book, “It was observed that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen, he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. ‘The time of business,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.” And…. now I cannot relate. If you walked into the kitchen at the Ranchito at approximately 6pm every evening as I am trying to get some sort of dinner on the table amidst the evening activities and “several persons at the same time calling for different things” the words heavenly-mindedness, even uninterrupted composure, or tranquility of spirit would not be the first that come to mind.
What did Brother Lawrence know that I have trouble grasping when the rubber meets the road, or the roast meets the oven? He made it simple. SIMPLE. He was intentional about simply practicing the presence of God. He says, “That we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity speaking to Him frankly and plainly and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen.” He goes on, “that we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him, with freedom and in simplicity. That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him every moment.” It was said of this hard-working, kitchen monk, “That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that insensible to everything but Divine love: and that when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and blessing Him with all his might, so that he passed his life in continual joy.”
Do you remember what happened to Moses when he went to speak to God on behalf of the Israelites? Exodus 34:33-35 says, “When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with Him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.” Talk about a glowing complexion…. Moses had it figured out. Isn’t is wonderful that on this side of the cross we don’t need a Moses to seek God for us? We no longer need a priest to take our prayers and confessions to the Lord. The veil has been torn and we can approach the Lord ourselves and get our own dose of Son.
I am all for intention. I am passionate about studying the word of God. I have a small problem with books, as in Amazon is my bestie and I order from her daily. As I said before, I am a sermon junkie. I loved to be filled with knowledge. I love to learn new things. I love to talk about them and discuss them. I want “my days to be numbered aright so that I may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).” BUUUUUTTTTTT…… “The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power (I Corinthians 4:20).”There is power in the presence of God… The presence of God IS power. Maybe today you let yourself lay all the weight of being intentional about every detail of your life down. Maybe you even put the highlighters and colored pencils away. Perhaps the new book, or study, or sermon can wait and you could dust off the lounge chair and just sit in the Son for a while. Invite him to invade your space with His presence whether that is in your car, shower, office, kitchen. Relax. As Brother Lawrence says, “A little lifting up of the heart suffices. A little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, are prayers which however short are nevertheless very acceptable to God.” No veil for us! No SPF either! It’s amazing what a little Son can do!