by Chloe G
Richard Rohr says the opposite of contemplation isn’t action, but reaction.
How did you get here? Do you remember? Were you surfing? Did you see a link on Facebook and find yourself here, curious and a little skeptical?
I spend my days fielding phone calls from folks who need things or who are just lonely. Specifically, I hear from refugees who want TV’s, couches, and friends. Most days, it’s easy to rest in this place of serving the poor and needy. These dear ones have been through the ringer, some barely escaping war and chaos. It is hardly sainthood to offer them any luxury we can in order to help their hearts heal from untold traumas. Still, there are some days where I feel overwhelmed, semi-consumed by the black holes of need all around. I start acting all western and holy, and I feel entitled to my flat screen and at least two hours a night of prime time programming.
I think I’m not the only one who works in full time ministry who feels this way either. I talk to people who work in the states among the homeless or overseas in refugee camps and developing nations where a good day is one meal of rice and water. How does anyone who follows Yahweh respond to massive amounts of need and longing and not get jaded by it all?
I think it’s interesting to note that Jesus spent lots of time around needy people. They flocked to him. Something about him made people realize the aches deep in their hearts. And after they realized the ache, they instinctively knew he could meet those aches and soothe them. So I really shouldn’t be surprised to find people drawn to the living God that whispers in my life.
Yet, we get tired. We have families and houseplants to water. What do we do?
At the risk of sounding like a 17 year old that just got back from church camp in the nineties, what did Jesus do about that?
He went away from the crowds. He spent time alone.
Do you ever think, “Geez, that was a little selfish. He only ministered for a few years, why’d he spent part of it alone? Why didn’t he heal more people?” I used to. Then I realized that there’s no life there. Pouring yourself out without refilling the cup leaves you thirsty and dry. You cannot offer water to thirsty people if your cup is empty. Jesus knew that.
He knew it well, so he did something incredibly generous for us: he modeled rest. Stillness. A humble spirit that knew it was not the point of the universe. Be honest, isn’t that what busyness really is? Thinly masked arrogant pride where I believe that the universe depends on me in order to continue running. Has the world ever actually stopped by my not answering my phone or only checking my email once a day? Will the world fall apart if I remember to be a human BEing instead of a human doing?
Rest. Be still. Pause before you go off to your next blog or Facebook post. Try being still. See if you can make it for 5 minutes of just listening for the sound of the Creator. And when you can do 5 minutes, try 10. Before you know it, you’ll find a well of living water springing up inside of you. A well that has been there all along. Drink deeply friends. The world’s need is great and we must act accordingly.
Chloe G is a culture broker from Minneapolis who specializes in languages and cross cultural bridges. She enjoys running, reading, and contemplating.