by Melissa Barnes,
Too Busy Not to Reflect
My three-year-old daughter discovered her shadow tonight. Our church hosted a Harvest Hoedown, and as she danced to the music outside, the light reflected her shadow against the side of the building. It mesmerized her. Her dad stood observing her then joined in, making his shadow do all sorts of silly movements. I watched them from afar, content to stand still and observe this mini-milestone. Later I thought about how the simplest things in life are often the most meaningful. I know in my core that God reveals Himself in these simple, everyday moments, yet I rarely pause to notice the extraordinary in the ordinary.
I don’t know about you, but there are not enough hours in my days. I could work for twenty-four hours straight and never “finish.” Laundry to wash…Dishes to scrub…Papers to grade…Rooms to clean…Lessons to plan…Places to drive. The tasks multiply like the fruit flies that invaded my kitchen last spring. Just when I think I have tackled the last of them, a new batch appears. Add to that the myriad of relationships that need sustaining in my life, and I just want to sit down and cry. In fact, sometimes I do!
Who has time to stop and make shadow figures on the wall or notice a flock of birds heading south for winter? Who can pause long enough to watch a spider craft her egg sac or a child build his first block tower? How often do we take the opportunity to reflect on each day that passes, looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary…better yet, looking for the divine in the mundane?
The real question is, “Who can afford not to?”
Several years ago I read a book by Bill Hybels called Too Busy Not to Pray. It struck a chord with me at the time and still does, seven years and two kids later, as the demands of my life and my need for prayer have grown exponentially. Soon after reading that book, I read The Cross and the Switchblade. David Wilkerson described how he prayed for hours each day, staying up late into the night. It humbled me at the time as I threw my short prayers at God between loads of laundry. I am convinced of the need for constant prayer in my life, but lately, I have become convinced of the need for reflection, too. I need to pause long enough to reflect on my day and where God met me in it. How did He speak to me? What did He say? How did I respond?
In 1 Kings 19:11, the Lord told Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by” (NIV). Elijah obeyed and “then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1Kings 19:11-13)
God is omnipresent, and He reveals himself to His people in a myriad of ways. We just don’t pause long enough to see and hear Him. We are unlikely to hear his voice boom at us over the loudspeakers at Wal-Mart or see His words for us scrawled across the billboards we fly past on the interstate. Instead, we will hear Him in the quiet and stillness. We will see him in the unexpected…in the shadows on the wall, in the loving touch of a friend, in the innocent words of our children, and yes, even in the fruit flies. We need only to pause long enough to look and to listen.
In recent months God has impressed upon me the lack of reflection in my day-to-day life. I rarely stop to think about where God has met me in my crazy days. I just keep moving from one task to the next, and though I may notice His work in my life, I am not deliberate about looking for the lessons and seeking to hear His still, small voice as it speaks to me in the mundane happenings of my everyday life.
I plan to embark on a journey to hear God in the everyday minutiae of my crazy, overloaded life. To slow down long enough to catch His messages to me. To reflect on who He is. To hide in His presence. I can’t afford not to. Will you join me?
Listen for God’s still, small voice in your life this week. What is He saying? Who or what is He using to speak to you? How can you be an instrument for Him to speak into others’ lives?