It feels a crazy time. For me at the moment, it’s all too easy to be often distracted, perhaps even a bit disoriented. There are always the challenges of work and family, and yet right now there is the particularly disappointing and even depressing state of our national affairs, heightened in the past couple of weeks between the Democratic caucuses, the Trump impeachment trial and its aftermath, and seemingly many fellow Christians continuing to support and celebrate things that don’t seem, well, particularly Christian.
Gordon Cosby has had a deep influence in my life, and I count him as one of my mentors. For him I am grateful to God. As the founding and long-time pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington, DC, he was called by NPR and others as “the most influential pastor you’ve never heard of.” He said many things I remember deeply, and one of them is this. I’ve called it to mind a hundred times at least.
“In times of crisis, go deeper…” (Gordon Cosby)
In times of crisis, go deeper. It feels another time of crisis, even if there’s much more to play out. So Gordon’s admonition begs the question, “Go deeper into what?”
In times of crisis, go deeper into Jesus. In times like this, it means stepping up our disciplines of prayer, diving deeply into the Scripture and particularly the Gospels, with contemplation and discernment. We create space to be with Jesus, to abide with him (John 15.1-11). We create space to let him speak to us, fill us with his own Spirit, and guide us. We talk to him, and listen to him. We study his life again and seek to live like he did.
In times of crisis, go deeper into the Deep Truths. For me, this means remembering the deep reality of the Kingdom of God—that vision of what happens when what God wants to happen happens— and that this is worth investing our lives and all our energies toward. Yes, God wants Shalom—peace between all peoples. Yes, God wants flourishing of individuals and societies. Yes, Jesus came to confront what is broken and bring redemption, and Jesus invites me to join him in this work, and it is worthy work. Yes, the God of love and justice is real and yes, orienting our lives around his counter-cultural reality is entirely worth it. Yes, my deepest hope is never my president or my country. Yes, our citizenship is in heaven first. Yes, each of us are on this planet to worship and serve God as long as we have breath, and doing so makes for a life worth living and it’ll all make sense in eternity. Yes, the Deep Truths are true, and worth orienting our lives around, and then living accordingly.
In times of crisis, go deeper into Love. Nothing matters more than love (1 Corinthians 13). I’ve quoted her a million times and will do so a million more, Mother Teresa: “If we have been created in the image of God, then we have been created to love, because God is love.” When all else swirls around, the deep center of gravity is to love people. Who is standing in front of me, right now, this very moment? How can I love them, right now? This question cuts through a lot of fog and gives us something to do right now, concretely, and something that is actually eternal and lasting. Love remains. God knows what to do with our acts of love.
In times of crisis, go deeper into Jesus, the Deep Truths, and Love. This is helpfully orientating in disoriented times.
Recently, when I was feeling overwhelmed by things personal and things national, I stopped for a day and took a bit of a spiritual retreat at Corhaven. It’s ironic that I live in a place that is offered as a place of spiritual retreat for others but too rarely take that opportunity in this same place for myself. It’s hard not to see all the projects yet to be done and to be all-too-close to the home office. But I did take some hours on retreat here, and it was good.
I started simply by stilling down, and then reading a lot of Scripture (Mark and Philippians); I spent some time in silence and connecting to the deep presence of God, and then listed out all the things that were on my mind, the “consternations”, and then prayed through them, giving them to God honestly and with petitions. That list will inform my prayers in the weeks to come. It was good, and God knows what to do with our time.
Do you need a spiritual retreat? Corhaven is available to you.
Do you feel the weight of these crazy days? Do you feel distracted, perhaps even a bit disoriented, disillusioned, depressed, or deflated? “In times of crisis, go deeper.”
To completely rip a verse out of context and not even quote it completely: “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’” (Isaiah 30.15)
On the Journey,
“SOUNDINGS” posts are aimed at considering together topics that are important for our society, for the Church, and for our own spiritual journeys. To ‘take a sounding’ is a nautical term about using depth to determine where you are and where you’re going. These writings are designed to do just that. Please share this post with friends you think might appreciate it. If you would like to get SOUNDINGS posts from me sent directly to your inbox, click here.