Daily Devotions

Solitude and Collegiality in Balance

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Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you. (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

When we are forced into our homes for the long winter, it will be easy to fall into ruts. Yet, there are ways to rise above the fatigue and experience meaning, and perhaps even a little happiness. For those of you who work from home, be sure to separate work time and space, from relaxation time and space. When I worked from the church, I had regular interruptions with staff questions. Working at home, we are not blessed with those interruptions, but we still need the breaks. Take a short walk. I often just stand out on the deck and just breathe in fresh air. A break is not idleness or weakness, but a time to fill up our emotional and spiritual engine.

Working from home is also showing me how often I was directed away from my goals for the day. Working from home gives my ministry the autonomy necessary to focus on what is important without being constantly sidetracked. I have witnessed it with the staff as well. Freed from the distractions, I have watched the staff become more creative, because they have the time and space to think, to ponder more deeply. Even the solitude can be a gift if recognized.

Another challenge with so much alone time is spending too much time in our own head. The nice part of having colleagues in the same office is that we can informally talk, joke, and bounce ideas off one another. When we lose the benefit of informal banter, worry starts to form in the spaces within our head. We need others to bring balance back into our lives.

This balance between the gift of solitude and the gift of collegiality is what brings spiritual wholeness. Today, prayerfully listen to your emotional and spiritual needs. In the same way you eat food when you are physically hungry, listen to the emotional and spiritual hungers as well. The more honest you become with your inner self, the less fatigue you will endure and the more meaning and happiness you will experience.

I Surrender

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Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

The word “surrender” is often considered a negative action. Surrender is often used in war, as one side gives up the fight and accepts the loss. Yet, spiritually, surrender is a positive term that each of us should strive to achieve. Surrender occurs when one realizes that we are too weak, and we are in the presence of someone or something much stronger. Not all stronger entities are evil. Faith is the recognition that we are too weak, and we need to surrender our will and very lives to our all-powerful God.

Spiritual surrender is a challenging business. It is easy to say and extraordinarily difficult to achieve. One doesn’t decide one day to become a runner, throw on a pair of shorts and shoes and run a marathon the first day. It takes practice, commitment and training. Even with all that work, some of us will not be able to finish 26.2 miles, but we can certainly improve our distance and time. The same is true of the spiritual practice of surrender. We begin with a light workout. We begin attending worship each week. We begin the practice of daily prayer. Our time in prayer may be merely seconds in length, but with each day, the act of praying becomes easier and soon we desire the time with God.

In time, the Holy Spirit guides our discipline. We begin to perform activities based on God’s call, rather than what we deem fun. We evolve with more focus on what is in the interest of others, and not simply on our own selfish desires. Surrender occurs slowly, with our self-interest taking a backseat to what we believe God desires from us in any given moment. Surrender is hard because it means losing control. It can feel like a freefall. Only with ongoing experience can we realize that God isn’t letting us fall but is holding us up.

Today, pray for the faith, strength, and discipline to surrender yourself to God. Begin anew, slowly at first. Pray and worship. Then slowly expand your surrender by sacrificing time and energy to doing activities that you feel God is calling you to fulfill. This can be anything from making a meal for the homeless shelter, to making sacrifices to increasing your church pledge. Whatever you choose, make incremental changes, so you do not overtax yourself too quickly and give up. Build those spiritual muscles so you will have the spiritual strength to let go, trusting God to hold on to you and lift you up.

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