Autumn is here. The chill in the air, the darker evenings and, in my case, the desire to do some baking that includes a touch of cinnamon, has got me all cosy. Spice and all things nice, knitted jumpers, spiced apple scents and slipper socks. Welcome Autumn, with your beautiful, crisp, golden, orange leaf arrangements that scatter the path. I’ve missed you. It’s a time to slow down and retreat into the sacred space of the warmth and welcome of home.
Busy bee is returning to the hive
It’s been a busy couple of months and I have recently had some time to rest and reflect. The change in season has brought me to a place of longing to step back in order to step up. To slow down and stop trying to keep up. Busyness is the pandemic of the digital age as we are constantly available and trying to keep up with whoever we can with a chronic case of Fear Of Missing Out.
Being busy is also a problem in Christian ministry. With zeal for Jesus and the longing to share the good news with anyone and everyone, plus the fact that we love to serve (hopefully), means many of us will say ‘yes’ without thinking things through and committing it to the Lord first.
Then there is just the day-to-day life of looking after family members, visiting others, doing housework, going to work, cooking meals, pursuing hobbies, keeping fit and any other way we can fill up our days. We seem to have jam-packed diaries. Maybe that’s just me. Or perhaps you can relate.
There are also busy seasons in our lives with newborns and toddlers, pressing deadlines, lots of appointments, several visitors, caring for elderly relatives and more – for some readers, it might be 24/7 with no break, no holidays, just the way that life is.
I long to live a life that is driven by prayer, reading and studying the Word, loving my family well and fulfilling the callings that God has specifically for me. It has not been easy to get the balance right. The scales have often tipped to saying yes to everyone, spending too much time scrolling through social media (even on the good bits!), rushing from one thing to another, comparing my life to every other mum/writer/cook/insert-appropriate-insecurity-here, trying to please everyone, skimming through the Bible, not talking with God much at all… and I don’t want to live like that anymore.
Friends, I want to change direction.
Rather than live life scanning from left to right and paying attention to everything that is going on around me, I want to pause and look up. I want to cast my eyes to Someone higher, eternal, permanent, steadfast. I want to practice what I preach. If I am being called to step up in an aspect of my life in the future, whether that be at home, in my writing, in wider church ministry or wherever, I want to ensure that my heart and mind are on solid ground and my priorities are right. My relationship with Jesus needs to come first. Then my family. Then my home. Then church and community. Then writing. Then x, y, z if so.
It’s all about Jesus. Less of me and more of Him – and believe me, that is radical in an age of social media, self-promotion and serotonin overload from likes and follows on our platforms. Our platforms. It rings with self-importance and the tireless pursuit of post after post for reactions, comments and shares. I participate in it too, so I’m not judging. And yes, they can be used for a lot of good too and to God be the glory when they are stewarded for His Kingdom. But as for me, I’m not just stepping back. But I’m stepping down. Stepping back from the busyness and stepping down from the need to keep up.
What does this look like? It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff I’m working on. Prayer, studying God’s Word and just nurturing my relationship with Jesus. I will still be writing and sharing content. I’m not deleting my social media accounts. But I’m not a slave to them either. They are wonderful tools, but they are just that – tools.
Slowing down, stepping back and stepping down
I’ll never forget a talk at a church camp when the speaker compared our relationship with God in how we pack the boot of a car when we go camping. Do we treat it like the sleeping bag that we stuff in the empty space, or do we treat it like the biggest, bulkiest item that goes in first and everything else then fits around it? That image has always stuck with me and my memory is not that great, so that is saying something! I genuinely want to slow down and just be with Jesus. No other agenda, just Him.
I want to live out what the message is behind what I write here: Know Christ More | Make Christ Known. It is ‘knowing Christ more’ that comes first.
If you’re the praying sort, please keep me in prayer at this time as I seek to draw closer to Jesus. Jesus said, ‘Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me’ (John 15:4). I want to bear good fruit, but in order to do that I need to remain in Jesus. Pray that I will be watered by the Word as I am already planted and rooted in His love.
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3 (NIV)