For me, July is the new January. For many of us, a new school year will be upon us in a month’s time. It’s time to assess where we are, look back and learn, look ahead and plan. (I know, I know. I don’t want to either.)
All I really want to do is read my novel and sip a glass of wine on my quiet back porch. But God is gently reminding me in the quiet of July that August is coming. Our sabbatical is almost over. Fall will come again, and with it schedules and paperwork and appointments and carpooling.
I’ve been trying to prepare, to work out my schedule to reflect some new priorities. But I’m realizing that this strategy will only work to a certain extent. With children in preschool, high school, and a new college freshman, our commitments are widespread and many. I can only tweak the schedule so much. I feel like I need to change the schedule, but I’m sensing that God might want to change my heart instead.
I’ve been reading a great book this summer while our family has been on sabbatical: A Praying Life: Connecting With God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller. It has been easier to connect with God this summer as so many of our distractions have been removed. It’s been easier to pray. But I know that those distractions will return, and soon. I long to take the quiet of the summer into the busyness of fall. I want to keep praying.
If you can relate, take this encouragement to heart: “Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet. Because we are less hectic on the inside, we have a greater capacity to love… and thus to be busy, which in turn drives us even more into a life of prayer. By spending time with our Father in prayer, we integrate our lives with his, with what he is doing in us. Our lives become more coherent. They feel calmer, more ordered, even in the midst of confusion and pressure” (A Praying Life, 23-4).
Sounds like exactly what my life needs: inner quiet in the middle of busyness and pressure. You, too?
So, if you’d like, join me in some July reflection. Think about what God is up to in your heart. Reflect on how the first half of the year has gone. (Remember that word you chose in January? That might be a good place to start.) Take advantage of the summer sun and drink in the opportunities for quiet and prayer.
But know that when distractions return, God will not leave you. He remains near, ready to continue the work he has begun. He is the one who will give you inner quiet in the middle of outer busyness.
So tweak the schedule, plan ahead, prioritize. But mostly, yield. Let God do his work in your heart. You might want a less busy life, but God wants to give you a less busy heart.
I’m all for that. How about you?
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