Part of the journey of this year is preparation — not only the actual preparation of buying supplies, coordinating events and speakers, and planning the budget– but more so, and perhaps in a larger sense, the preparation is of the heart, of my own heart, and of the heart of the congregation as I am planning this journey. In many ways, this has been the message God has continued to speak to me over the past months.
Six months ago I met with our Lay Leader Susan Brehmer and she said, “You know, Brian, the more important work will happen between now and when you depart.” Exactly.
Then at my accountability group meeting one of my brothers said, “Brian, I think you need to plan in space, time to reflect, to prepare the way for your own heart.” He went on to say that a way needed to be made “IN” me not just “FOR” me. Point taken.
I was speaking with my coach, and she said, even though I had not told her of these other conversations, “Sounds like ‘space’ might be your word for the next weeks. The need to make space in your life and schedule.” Right.
Last night I was sitting at dinner and describing the need of a friend to slow down, and our youngest daughter, Gabrielle, 24, said, “Um, Dad, perhaps you ought to be thinking about that ‘slowing down bit’ for yourself too.”
Seriously, God must think I am hard of hearing. And indeed, I am. I listen only with my head often, and sometimes not even that. I just keep rushing, pushing, stretching, and God says, “Stop.”
So, yesterday, my car quit working. Only temporarily, but it was a reminder.
I am so dependent upon my car to get me places quickly, then I can stack appointments with people easily, with me driving madly between them. This small setback got me walking today some 6 miles. It was great. Walking slows me down immediately. It gave me thinking time. And it gave me a chance to reflect upon the need for space in my life, time to reflect, time to prepare the heart, time to prepare myself spiritually for this time of refreshment in the fall.
So, today I made the decision to cut down on the hours I work each week and take more space. I’m cutting them back to 40. That will be a huge shift for I stretch the hours out. But if I am to find space, and if I am really to reflect and truly prepare my heart, it’s a necessity. And 40 — it’s a decent biblical number. Moses was 40 when he first tried to save Israel. That didn’t go well. He returned at 80 under God’s direction. He spent 40 days on Mt Sinai. And returned for another 40. Israel wandered 40 years in wilderness. Elijah journeyed 40 days traveling to the Mountain of God. Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert. Perhaps that number of hours alone can work my heart.