Over the next few weeks, Lauren Hansen, a Young Adults leader from Chicago, shares with us how her students are building sustainable spiritual rhythms in this season of lockdown.
This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Jeremiah 6:16
If you’re like me, you may have found yourself with some extra time in this season. uni lectures – moved online. Sports and gym memberships – canceled. Driving to work – no longer necessary. I’ve seen a lot more of the four walls in my flat in these past four months than I ever thought I would. Unless you’re a student with kids, taking care of an ill family member or one of our incredible key workers, my guess is that you’ve experienced a bit more downtime, too.
"The busyness and distractions of life could no longer hide what my soul was craving – to be known, to know others deeply, and to intimately know God."
After the initial shock of the pandemic, my insides began falling out. Not literally (that would be concerning), but as soon as my soul had some time to breathe, it was like all of these longings that I had subconsciously pushed down began to surface. The busyness and distractions of life could no longer hide what my soul was craving – to be known, to know others deeply, and to intimately know God.
Sure, I had friendships and small groups and church, but there was a depth I suddenly found my heart longing for – especially in my relationship with God. In addition to that, the shelter-in-place order present here in Chicago shifted almost every routine and rhythm in my life. So there I was – sitting with a deep longing for connection and a need for some sort of new structure. But what do you do with that?
One day after lamenting the fact that our libraries were all closed, I came across an old book in my bookshelf called Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. I didn’t know how it got there but I hadn’t read it before. As I flipped open the pages and began to read, instant hot tears ran down my face.
“When was the last time you felt it—your own longing, that is?” the author wrote. “Your longing for love, your longing for God, your longing to live your life as it is meant to be lived in God? When was the last time you felt a longing for healing and fundamental change groaning within you?”
How did she know?! I wiped the tears away and continued to read. “These are some of the deepest questions of the human soul, and they defy an attempt of simplistic answers,” she wrote. “In the midst of my own discomfort with such penetrating questions, I have found it surprising but also reassuring to enter into the biblical story and discover that Jesus himself routinely asked people questions that helped them get in touch with their desire and name it in his presence. He often asked, ‘What do you want? What do you want me to do for you?’ The willingness to open up this place in Christ’s presence is part of the intimacy we seek. It enables us to rise up from our place at the side of the road so that we can actually get on the path to spiritual transformation and follow Christ.”
In the chapters following, Barton shared various kinds of ancient spiritual rhythms that have been used for hundreds of years to connect with God, many practiced in moments of solitude. Throughout his ministry, Jesus modeled rhythms of solitude, community and ministry. Luke 5:15-16 says, “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” In addition to teaching his disciples and serving people in need, Jesus also took time away to be with God.
Jesus withdrawing to lonely places is an invitation for us also. I’m excited to invite you on a journey over the next three weeks! I’ve challenged a few friends to try out a new spiritual rhythm for seven days and then I interviewed them about their experiences. Each blog will feature their thoughts along with everything you need to try out the rhythm, too. It will be a journey of transformation! You in?