Unplug to Plug in

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I made an effort to get up earlier than usual this morning.  It was quiet, still, peaceful.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.  (Mark 1:35)

Just give me an hour with you, Lord.  That was my prayer.

Then came a ding from my cell phone.  A text.

Already?

Then the ring from our land line.  Those political phone calls start early.

Bob was up bright and early too.  He wanted to call our internet service company about our weak wifi connection.

So our day began with a service representative on speaker phone with all of us trying to trouble shoot our wifi problem.

After being on the phone for an hour, I still don’t think the problem has been solved

Life is loud.

It seems we stay connected 24/7.  Everything is instant and there’s more news and media coming at us than ever before.

We get pictures in real-time, see the events of friends happening right before our eyes, games, offers, advertisements, slogans, recipes and more come at us as we scroll down the news feed on facebook.  Then there’s instagram, pinterest, twitter and who knows what else that may keep us connected with others non stop.

We’re on high alert…always plugged in.

I read an article recently where the author (a psychologist) stated that social media is robbing people of their attention span.  One of the points she made is that we have re-trained our brains to want and need never-ending stimulation.  Being silent and still is foreign.  Settling down and being quiet is hard to do.  We have a whole nation that is becoming more and more ADHD.

Trying to turn our brains off seems harder and harder these days.

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.  Luke 5:16

We don’t like lonely.  Solitude is becoming a lost experience.

Jesus taught us how to pray (and continues to do so as we follow him through the gospels)  Also, he shows us the value in finding a quiet spot, away from distractions where the only other person present is God the Father.

If our own Lord needed to pull away, we too need it and more than ever today.

Jesus was fully God and fully man.  His humanity knew how necessary it was to stay in complete communication with his father.  There was a dependence that he perfectly models for us.

Not only that, the trinity communicated with each other.  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit had complete unity and interaction with one another.

The Holy Spirit leads us in prayer and interacts with God the Father as well and–teaches us how to pray.

That prayer I prayed earlier for an hour of time?  It’s being answered now.  It’s quiet in my house again.  My phone is off.  I’m unplugged from the internet.  I need this silent space, and feel compelled to focus on Jesus and his alone time.  What an example he is to me and a true leader in the blessing of solitude and prayer.

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Jesus would dismiss the crowds so he could be alone with his father.  (Mathew 14-22-23)

He would spend the night alone praying.  (Luke 6:12)

Jesus interceded for his followers.  (Luke 22: 31-32)

He petitioned God on behalf of others. (Luke 23:34)

He gave thanks to God for answered prayer.  (John 11:41-42)

Jesus was truthful about his emotions with God.  (John 12:27-28)

Jesus prayed for his disciples and for all believers.  (John 17: 6-26)

He cried out loudly to God to save him from death. (Hebrews 5:7)

I like the contact that I have with family and friends on facebook.  That’s my only social media connection.  I enjoy hearing from others, seeing their pictures, learning how I can pray for them…rejoicing through the good and mourning through the bad with them.

I don’t think I’ll be giving up that connection but I do need to unplug from our modern-day devices to plug into God who recharges me with his power and life.  That’s a connection that I can’t afford to lose.  If Jesus couldn’t live without communication with his father, I certainly can’t live without it.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga©2014

When We Need Each Other

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“It’s kind of scary,”  she said.  A young woman, who stood on the threshold ready to walk through a new door, summed up her thoughts with those four words.  It’s.  kind.  of.  scary.

I sat with her for a couple of hours.  I listened, offered some suggestions but those four words didn’t leave me once we left one another and drove home in different directions.

Sometimes doors that we don’t want to go through appear and we have no choice–we have to enter them.  Others may look beautifully inviting but may not be the best ones to open.  She and I tried to sort that out together.

Although years separated that young woman and me, we actually weren’t that different.  It’s the unknowns that lie ahead that can overshadow our faith sometimes.  They can paralyze us with fear if we allow them to consume us.

She was growing up, about to venture out into the world, taking on new responsibilities and she was afraid.

I, a mature woman, recently had a few of my own fears.

My husband, Bob, started his treatment for CML last week.  As he was preparing to take his first dose, I read all the possible side effects from the information sheet that came with it.

That did it.  I allowed my thoughts to spin out of control.  All of a sudden the scenarios of what could happen played out in my mind.  Those scenarios overshadowed my faith.  I began to tread on shaky ground but caught myself before I got too far.

That’s when I asked others to pray for Bob (that he wouldn’t have any adverse side effects from the chemo drug) and that I would regain my peace.

It’s times like this that we need each other.  That’s when we need others to speak back to us the faith that we announced, pronounced and were walking in just hours before.

We aren’t lone rangers.  In a world that glorifies independence it’s difficult, at times, to step back and then turn back to what is true–we need each other.  It’s called interdependence.

Independence proclaims, “I don’t need anybody.”  Dependence says “without you I can’t survive.”

Interdependence throws off pride, doesn’t pretend to have it all together, isn’t a burden on others but knows when it’s time to reach out to someone.

It’s the way we’re designed.  We weren’t designed to handle life alone.

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In our fear we should never be afraid to share what we’re experiencing with the right people.  Often it will lose its grip on us just by telling someone else about it and talking it through.

It also loosens its hold on us when we allow others to carry us to Jesus when we’re too weary or afraid to walk toward him ourselves.

Like the paralytic man in Luke 5: 17-26 who needed someone to carry him to Jesus we, at times, need others to carry us to him when we feel paralyzed by fear.  You’ll notice in the story that Jesus commended the faith of the paralytic’s friends and then ultimately healed the man.

It wasn’t long, not even a few hours, when my fears washed away and faith returned.

Also sometimes it’s good to go to a familiar place where we are alone or a place that we know will help us to enter into the presence of God.

For me, one of those places is the lake near our home.

The night of Bob’s first treatment, after he took his first dose and I asked others to pray, we drove down to the lake.

It was chilly.  We sat in the car and watched the sun begin to set.  Then I walked down to the water’s edge.  Very few people were on the beach in the chill of that evening.  It was peaceful.  Some sunsets are brilliant and other times the sun looks like a ball of fire against a dark sky.  The only way to describe the one before us that night was tranquil.

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Bright light broke through the sky with ribbons of pink around it.  Waves washed up on shore and light reflected on the wet sand from the light above.

As I think about that night, I’m reminded of the words from “Hosanna” by Paul Boloche–“In your presence all our fears are washed away.”  My fears were washed away…in his presence that night on the beach.

With every wave, in the peaceful tranquility of the sun setting, I was able to carry Bob in prayer to the one who would keep him, hold him and use the medicine to heal him and not to harm him.  Other friends and family came to mind too.  As I carried Bob, I carried others.

And today I’m able to carry my young friend in prayer.  The one who was about to walk through a door into the unknown.  The one who spoke those four words to me, “It’s kind of scary.”

Written by: Nancy Janiga©2014