Each season (winter, spring, summer, fall) has a brief window that we look forward to. It’s appreciated, and then at some point we arrive at a place that we are thankful for the next season to come along. For me it’s summer leading into fall. There is something about those dog days of summer that can seem grueling here in the tropics. But when the first whiff of cool air comes or the humidity drops as you exit your house that first morning of fall, you sense a change of seasons. Oh, how good it is! Whatever your preference, the space and time between the seasons, however brief, is an excellent place to have a healthy pause.
A pause is a time of reflection, a time to look in the mirror and become more self-aware, consider where we spend our time and who we give our time to. Pause to look at how fast or slow we’re going and readjust to a pace and rhythm of life that works for us. When the pace of life gets out of rhythm, we miss opportunities ahead and the blessings of the past.
The same is true in our relationships. We must be intentional at protecting that time together, however brief it may be. Making a habit of connecting with those we love allows us to yield a harvest of healthy relationships. Every relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. Part of what makes a relationship healthy is sharing a common goal of what you want in the relationship and where you want it to go. You arrive there together when you can talk honestly with each other. Maintaining a meaningful emotional connection makes each of you feel loved and emotionally fulfilled, and secure. Keeping a relationship requires your time. When our relationships are out of rhythm, we need to pause and reflect. Do we need to change our pace of life?
Currently, most of us reside in the wealthiest country globally, in one of the most influential states in this country, and many of our homes reside in the second most affluent county in the nation at one of the most prosperous times in all of history. Things sound good and seem good, and our relationships, according to social media, look good, but all, unfortunately, are not so good. What we hear behind the closed doors of many homes are cries of loneliness. People in such despair that they’ve lost all hope. With all of our affluence, we are also one of the most over-medicated, depressed and anxiety-filled generations of all time. For all our wealth, many are bankrupt of peace and grace. We’ve forced our physical bodies, mental and emotional capacities to endure a pace we weren’t created to maintain long term. Wherever we find ourselves, listen to Jesus’ comforting words for this time:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion(life)? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).
The first thing He says is, “Come to me, get away with me.” Each of us must be with him and press in to listen to His voice. Why? Because we need to be able to recognize His voice. We recognize the voice of people we share life with. My Dad doesn’t call me and say, “Lisa, this is your Father.” I know his voice because I spend time with him. To understand our heavenly Father, we have to spend time with Him. When we spend time with Him, we’ll learn to recognize His voice.
As our earthly Father teaches us by spending time with us, our heavenly Father says, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.” We have to slow down, pause, pay attention and make space to walk, work and watch. At times He’s that quiet voice we have to lean in to hear, and other times He rolls off the pages of the Bible like thunder, but we must make space to listen for His voice and obey so we can experience the unforced rhythms of a grace filled life.
How do we make space?
Prioritize your priorities
Our calendars and bank accounts reveal our priorities. Just like the four seasons of the year, look over your calendar and bank account every three months. If there’s no indicator of time, talent and treasure invested in Jesus, then there’s probably a relationship characterized as an acquaintance rather than one of intimacy. Realign! Regardless of our good intentions to spend time with Him or our genuine belief in Him, we will rarely hear or recognize the voice of God if we don’t have conversations with Him. Slow down and make space to experience His grace.
What you feed grows and what you starve dies!
Jesus is the Bread of Life, and out of Him flows rivers of Living Water. We need the daily food and water of communion with Him. He nourishes our souls. Without Him we become like dry bones in the desert, increasingly unhealthy in our thinking, which overflows to our choices, impacting those we love the most.
Leave space for grace
We desire and need a great measure of grace and forgiveness from God. In turn, we should extend and freely give grace and forgiveness to others. There’s no space for grace if our pace of life is so frenzied that we’re frazzled trying to get it all done. We won’t have the mental capacity or peace to extend grace or forgiveness to others if we don’t extend grace to ourselves by making time with Jesus. He tells us, “Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” A life of grace requires a holy pace.
“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”- D.L. Moody
Lisa May is Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida. She can be reached at [email protected], by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308, or visit livethelifesoflo.org Scott Salisbury, Director of Marriage for Live the Life South Florida, also contributed to this article.
Read more articles by Lisa May at goodnewsfl.org/author/lisa-may/