Clear Your Head!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

~Philippians 4:6

I did something last week I'd never done before--I took a day off from work (both jobs), left the house early in the morning, and spent most of the day in a local park. I took a cooler full of water, my Bible, and a journal.  And that was it.  No phone.  No iPad.  Nothing that would distract me from what I needed to do.  I really needed to clear my head.

I work a full-time job, and about six months ago, I became a part-time bi-vocational pastor of a small town Baptist church. It's been a challenge balancing my time between those two roles, and making sure I still have time for my family and keeping the yard mowed.

But I've sure enjoyed it.  I like to be busy.  And I've found a pretty good balance. I have time enough to do everything I need to do as a pastor, but I just don't have enough time to do everything I want to do as a pastor.  But I know that will come. I'm not too far away from retirement in my full time career.  I'm looking forward to being able to dedicate all my time to ministry.

But the one area that's challenged me is I don't get enough quiet time.  Time to think.  Time to spend with God.  I have time set aside each day for reading and studying the Bible, and praying, and working on my sermons.  But it's just not enough time to work through all the things a pastor needs to think about--to the point I started waking up about 2 AM and then finding it hard to go back to sleep. 

So I took an entire day to clear my head.  To get grounded.  To get caught up thinking through things I needed to figure out.  And to figure out a few things that had been bothering me.  I set aside an entire day to read and to pray.  I found quiet places to think.  I did some hiking.  I did a lot of writing.  And what I found, was that it was the most productive day I've had in a long, long time.  It was more valuable to me that I could have possibly imagined it would be.  It was a game changer.  I walked out of the woods late that afternoon feeling better than I've felt in a long, long time.  Probably since before COVID.  

I left a lot of baggage out there in the woods.  I figured a lot of things out. I recognized where I was spending too much time, and not enough. And I spent a great deal of time talking to God about some of the questions I still have about the path he put me on.  And I slept like a rock that night, and every night since.  I've already got time set aside to do that again.  I would imagine these little retreats into the woods will be a very important part of my prayer life going forward.

We carry so much stuff with us. Sometimes we get so used to it we don't realize it.  We're thinking about a million things all the time.  We're in a hurry all the time.  We've got more on our calendar than we can ever do.  We think we need to fill every moment with some kind of activity.  And when we aren't busy, we've got that phone out, and we're scrolling through nonsense that adds no real value to our life.  We're missing the quiet moments in our life.  The reflective moments.  The prayerful moments. But you can certainly get that back.

Find a little time on your calendar for a long conversation with God. I think you'll find a lot more in those quiet moments than you think.

~Todd E. Creason