Just a quick note to let you know that this Saturday’s Breathing Space (quiet day) has been cancelled.
In fact, I’m having to slow down the frequency of these days simply because there are not enough people regularly attending to make it financially viable. If I could afford to do it each month just for myself, I would, but I can’t.
At this stage, the only other Quiet Day for 2008 will be on Saturday 29th November, and then next year’s Quiet Days will only be held once a quarter. More on that later.
It’s interesting to me that the purpose of these days is to give people "breathing space"; an opportunity to intentionally slow down in order to be alone with God in quietness and peace, and yet the consistent reason people have for not been coming is that they are just too busy … and I find that very telling.
In my own life, I realise I am somewhat addicted to noise and turbulence. I hate it, but I struggle to live without it, even when I know doing so will benefit the quality of my life. But the Bible is true in every way, especially as it relates to the Kingdom of God. The King James version of the Bible says that …
"The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
Now, my good ol’ Pentecostal training would tell me that this is about militantly laying hold of God by violently coming against the devil and his schemes to outdo God. That may be true, but it isn’t what God has been saying to me for some weeks now.
Firstly, what is the Kingdom of God all about? Well, the apostle Paul says that …
"… the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the (Spirit) Holy Ghost."
What Paul is saying is that the Kingdom of God isn’t about stuff. It isn’t about temporal, earthly, natural things. It isn’t about "meat and drink". The Kingdom of God is a life of righteousness, peace and joy when lived in the Spirit!
And Jesus said that this very Kingdom of Heaven is within us, and it is this Kingdom that suffers violence again and again, day in, day out. It suffers violence through the insanity of 21st century life .. that is, the incessant noise, internal turbulence, frentic activity, work demands, family demands, church demands, personal demands, friendship demands, demands you didn’t ask for, go looking for, and demands you didn’t even expect to find. In fact, these are all things that keep us away from our relationship with Jesus! And yet, I hear God saying that the only response to this is for us to be equally violent in response …. but it is a Kingdom violence I hear Him speaking about.
Here’s some of what Jesus said the violence of the Kingdom looks like …
If you want to gain your life, you must lose it.
If you want to receive, you must give.
If you want to be the first in all things, you must be the last in all things.
If you want to be served, you must serve.
So, if the Kingdom of Heaven within me suffers the violence of noise and turbulence, I must be equally or moreso "violent" with a response of peace and gentleness. If the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence because of my crazy schedule, or my work demands, or whatever, I must rally a "violent" response of stillness and the reprioritising of my life and time in order to slow down to be with Him.
Think about this .. just because you have a phone, doesn’t mean you need to answer it when it rings. Just because you have an email address, doesn’t mean you need to respond the moment something lands in your inbox. Who said these things are a necessity for our lives? God certainly didn’t, so would am I believing a lie imposed on me by the expectations of modern society and living my life accordingly?
More’s the point, why do we allow ultimately inconsequential things to get in the way of our prayer life, or our intentional spiritual development? We must remember that the way of humanity is that all living things decay. And they decay even more rapidly when not attended to and cared for. This is certainly the case with our spiritual lives.
Jesus said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and everything else will be added to you." Y’see? Kingdom first, everything else second. That is a violent response to 21st century life, but one that will win us immeasurable "health" in every area of our lives.
The question is, has the pace of our lives made us so tired that we just don’t have the wherewithal to fight for what we value? I believe in many ways, it has.
But the only answer is to get "violent". Suck it up and fight.
Fight for silence. Fight for peace. Fight for intentional spiritual growth. Fight for the joy that only comes from being alone with God. Fight for the Kingdom to be established .. but don’t look beyond yourself to some nebulous display of this concept. No! The Kingdom of God is within you, and it is well worth fighting for!