Clutter

I wanted coffee (nothing new there). After all, we were on a quick weekend getaway in Nashville, Tennessee (aka coffee heaven) and that’s what you do. As I rounded the corner of the Eighth and Roast building to return to my car, I discovered my wife with handfuls of random items walking toward the garbage can near the street. She had that look on her face and I knew instantly that she wasn’t exactly pleased with me at that moment. In life there are moments where you just know instantly what’s going on and there’s no need for explanation, but you know it’s coming anyway. This was one of those.

For months, maybe (probably) years, I have gone through periods of time where I have allowed my vehicle to become a sort of locker…a catch-all for random papers, kid art, lego’s, softball cleats, old restaurant menu’s (because Google isn’t good enough?) etc. I always justify this in my mind by thinking things like, “I drive a lot, it just happens. I basically live in this thing.” or “I have a kid and kids are just messy.” or most often, “I am so tired. I just want to get inside, put my things down and eat.” Although these thoughts aren’t necessarily inaccurate or untrue, the problem is I rarely did anything about the mess that continued to clutter my SUV.

One look at my wife’s face and I knew I was in trouble. As her lips pressed together tightly, almost as tightly as her hands grasped the trash that had littered the floorboards of my back seat for too long, I instantly knew she was done with the clutter (and as a result, so was I). Of course, we are talking about my car here, but to me I felt as though it was a microcosm of things that were going on internally. In my mind and in my spiritual walk I had allowed clutter to slowly accumulate to the point that I was unable to focus consistently on anything really. I had the hardest time praying or even making time to read a book. Life’s clutter leaves little room for valuable things. It left the floorboard of my life covered with so many random items that it became hard to focus on a few.

Webster’s Dictionary defines clutter as: To fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness. Some synonyms are: Waste, distraction, no value, interference.

The interesting thing about clutter is that it isn’t usually one or two huge pieces of distraction that hinders us, it’s the collection of all the small things accumulated over a long period of time that becomes the problem. Every day we are so bombarded with distractions of all kinds. We may live in the most distracted society ever to exist. We take on way too many things, our phones buzz continuously, we watch excessive amounts of news, spend too much time on social media, and the list goes on.

Once the accumulation of clutter has begun, it becomes a slippery slope to a number of unwanted guests. The first one I always notice is complacency. I hate complacency because it takes the edge off our lives. It lowers our defenses. It lies to us and tells us things are “fine”. No need to try super hard…no need to stay on the offensive…no need to clean that floorboard. No one really sees it but us anyways right?? So, we walk around with an “oh-well” mindset.

I will now quote Nick Saban, because football. He said this before Alabama played an undefeated Number 6 Texas A&M team in 2016 after the Tide’s 19th consecutive win, when asked how he was going to keep his players focused on the game with all the success: “We encourage our players to stay focused on the things that matter…External factors that I call clutter really can affect your phycological disposition about how you need to compete in the next game, because you can get satisfied with people patting you on the back for what you did last week, then you get punched in the nose the next week.”

We have an enemy who wants to keep us in a distracted, cluttered, and complacent state. He wants us to think all the junk in our floorboards are “fine”. All the while, his fist is pulled back and ready to strike us in the nose when we least expect it. You see, I had every intention to take the time one day to clean my car. However, having intentions to remove clutter isn’t the same as actually getting it done. It took my wife, basically saying, “enough is enough”. Thankfully, her action provoked me to not just clean my car, but to evaluate my life…to “focus on the things that matter”.

So what do we do to minimize clutter? Every person is different and deal with various things, but I love how Saban approaches this with his players. He tells them to win the next play. Beat your guy. Do not focus on the overall game, just win the next battle. In our lives, it can be as simple as saying no to responding to emails for the next hour. Maybe we can take five minutes to walk outside and look at the sky instead of down at our phones. Maybe before we race into the kitchen to start prepping lunches for the day, we find our kids, look them in the eye, and tell them good morning and how much we love them.

As it relates to my car, my wife suggested I make a habit of removing junk each time I get out of the car as to prevent the build up before it ever happens. This is also a fantastic way to maintain our souls, our thought life. If we can find five minutes a day and quiet ourselves before the Lord with no distractions and at least give Him the opportunity to speak to us, chances are high that He will. If not, at least we can find some scraps of distracting paper to place in the nearest garbage container.

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Trust Issues

By the time our son had entered into our family at age one, his previous caretaker’s unschooled practices and interactions with him had already shattered his fragile trust into a million pieces. He had already determined, because of those past experiences, that those put in charge of taking care of him were not reliable and that he would need to look out for himself as much as possible. Ultimately, he didn’t see his old caretakers as “good”. We call it a part of “the old blueprint”. Little did these rookie parents comprehend that we would be spending the next several years trying to rebuild that broken trust of our little boy. However, when trust has been broken or when it has never truly been established, it is a daunting mountain to navigate.

As we fast forward eight years the process continues, but dramatic improvements have been realized. It has literally taken years of repetitively “coming through” for him, to reestablish trust. No longer does he have to depend upon himself or an unreliable source for survival. No longer does he have no voice. He now has a loving mother and father, a reliable source. He has loving caretakers that know what he needs before he even realizes he needs it. We are by NO means perfect parents, but our son now knows that we are good, and because we are good he can trust us.

As Holy Spirit began speaking to me about what trust means, that picture of our relationship with our son would not leave my thought process. It is really a microcosm of our relationship with our Father. We all have or have had our own trust issues that we battle. Maybe it’s because we have been burned by someone in our past and we put that on God. Maybe it’s because we feel like He didn’t come through in the way we wanted Him to. Maybe it’s because we haven’t received healing for a physical problem we might be facing. Maybe we don’t feel that our basic needs will be attended to. In any case, I believe if we dig below the surface we might find that the root cause has a lot to do with whether or not we believe in the goodness of God.

What does trust actually mean? The dictionary defines it like this: “A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

There are a ton of scriptures about trust, but one that stands out to me is Psalm 9:10, which says in the NLT, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

The AMP version says it like this, “And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You,…”

This scripture is basically saying, If you know Him…if you have experienced Him, you know He is good. If you know Him, you are confident in His reliability and you can bank on His strength. If you know anything about Him, you can rest assured that He loves you. Therefore, trust comes easily. But before we can really trust, we must actually believe that God is good.

A quote I read recently by Mother Teresa said this, “Total surrender involves loving trust. You cannot surrender totally unless you trust lovingly and totally. Jesus trusted His Father because He knew Him, He knew of His love.

As it relates to our son, there are times that we still have to remind him that his needs will be met. We still have to revisit the fact that we will come through for him. We still have to meet his needs and be there when he’s having a hard day. But God doesn’t have to remind us of this fact or prove anything to us. We must remind ourselves about who He is. He doesn’t change, but our circumstances do. Life get’s difficult sometimes and when it does, it is really easy to lose sight of how good He is. If we don’t remind ourselves of His love and His compassion for us, we are prone to forget just how trustworthy our Father is and that He knows what we need before we need it.

Why is it so important that we learn to trust? Here are a few reasons I came up with over the past few days:

* If we can’t trust, we can’t rest.
– “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” -Isaiah 26:3

* If we can’t trust, we can’t receive.
– “I tell you the truth, you can pray for anything and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” -Mark 11:24

* Trust leads to strength.
– “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. The will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faith.” -Isaiah 40:31

* Trust leads us out of darkness.
– “…If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” -Isaiah 50:10

* Trust leads to inheritance!
– “…But whoever trusts in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” -Isaiah 57:13

* Trust develops closeness.
– “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” -Nahum 1:7

* Trust produces hope.
– “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

Good, healthy relationships are built upon trust. From the moment our feet touch the floor after a long nights sleep, we have a thousand opportunities to practice leaning into his goodness before our heads return to the pillow. My desire is to live from my “new blueprint” and remember that He really is a good Father. He is the Ulitimate Caretaker who knows what we need before we even realize we need it.

He is literally perfect in EVERY way. He can be trusted.

Listeners

Ever been around a great listener?  Almost all of my favorite people I have ever been around are great listeners.  Why is that?  What I have found is that most every one of them also have another common trait…compassion.  Compassionate people are a pleasure to be around.  Maybe it’s because they are less interested in only dishing out advice.  Maybe it’s because their minds aren’t fixated on themselves and their problems.  Either way, I think it’s because they are being like Jesus.

One thing we know about Jesus is that He is a great listener.  There are too many examples of this throughout scripture to list here, but a story that always sticks out in my mind is when Jesus healed the blind beggar in Luke 18:35-42.  In this passage, Jesus not only heard him crying out above the noise of the crowd, but then he called the man forward to come near and asked him what he wanted him to do for him (knowing already what was needed). He gave the man an opportunity to be heard.  Then Jesus had compassion on him and healed him…right there in front of the same crowd that passed by the poor guy every day.  Jesus entered into the man’s pain, heard him out, had compassion on him, then helped him without giving him a lecture.

As a father, I have plenty of opportunities to learn more about listening daily.  Admittedly, I am a work in progress when it comes to listening and displaying Christ-like compassion.  My desire is to not just listen with my ears, but to try and listen below the surface of what is really being said (or demonstrated). It isn’t easy. In fact it’s downright difficult (almost impossible at times). I think the primary reason is because I want to “fix” things as quickly as they arise without entering the pain with my son. There is always a deeper layer that needs to be excavated, to be exposed to the light, addressed, healed.  Those deeper layers can only be accessed by way of compassion and understanding and by being a good listener.  When we jump right into lecture mode we heap layers of dirt on top of the already existing ones, thereby inhibiting any previously made progress.  I know I have likely messed it up as much as I’ve gotten it right.  So I am thankful that God’s grace supersedes my mistakes in these cases.

This same thought also reigns true in society in general, we are so quick to get our view points across.  We want to be heard. We want to impress or demonstrate what we know. We want to be right. However, I think sometimes, for me anyway, really listening and trying to understand someone, seeing things through their perspective is super hard because it also makes me vulnerable. It makes us open up to the idea that maybe someone is hurting…and that isn’t safe to us. Maybe it strikes a nerve in our own lives or activates some fear we have buried 100 feet below our social media persona. So we put up walls…Limits on how much we can tolerate before we either back off, change the subject, go off on a rant about why “they” are wrong, or lob words of wisdom in someone’s direction.  However, it is meaningless to try and encourage someone when they feel they have not been heard.  How well we listen will directly determine the weight of our words.

We live in a society that is absolutely starved for compassion, yet very few desire to give it. It’s hard.  It is hard to listen to someone else’s pain without interjecting. Listening and saying nothing is a disciplineWe tend to want to minimize the relevancy of the pain others might be walking throughHowever, we lose our compassion when we minimize someone else’s pain.  Jesus didn’t look at the suffering blind man and think, “Oh come on, your life is not THAT bad man”.  He didn’t rush by and say, “Be healed…bye”.  He stopped.  He listened.  He let the man use his voice.  He entered into that man’s pain.  He responded with compassion.

Whether it’s in our families, at work, our perspective on race relations, religion, politics, or some other area of our lives, we could all benefit from practicing the discipline of listening.  I think we should all decided to start approaching people with a little more compassion and a little less judgement.  If we can start to open up to the idea that we might not have all the practical answers and just be okay with entering someone else’s pain so that Jesus can be the answer, it can actually cause healing to take place in them (and ourselves). Listening goes a long way toward healing.

Lord, help me to never be a contributor to a compassion-less society.  I want to be your hands extended.  Teach me to be a good listener.  Please remind me to not rush past someone’s hurt. I want to be compassionate as you are compassionate, because I want to see wounds healed. Amen.

Move Without The Ball

I have always loved sports.  I enjoy them in general, but grew up playing a lot of basketball, so it holds a special place in my heart.  The great thing about sports, especially team sports, is the invaluable life lessons you learn along the way.  Having so much experience around the game of basketball causes me to look at games a little differently.  When most people think of basketball they primarily think of scoring points. For me, one of the greatest lessons I learned throughout the years is the importance of moving without the ball.  I think this mentality can be translated over into our lives and how we live it as well.

Basketball is obviously a team sport, and for a team to be as successful as it can be, it must involve all players doing their job, no matter what it is.  Yes, your team needs to be able to score, and it certainly helps to have dominate players on your team who are skilled at scoring baskets.  However, it is rare that a single player on your team can consistently carry your team to victory on their own while his or her teammates just stand around and watch.  Consistent team scoring and ultimately consistent team winning will only occur when every offensive player decides to move without the ball…Even if it means they might not actually touch it.

Moving without the ball is a decision.  It is a mentality.  I am not talking about moving for movements sake, but moving with purpose.  Strategic movement.

When the coach calls in a play from the sideline, you are expected to run that play.  For the play to be successful, as stated before, all five players must move with purpose.  If half your teammates are standing around watching, the play will break down very quickly.  Moving without the ball creates spacing, it causes the defense to get out of position, it creates mismatches that the defenders can’t adjust to, it gives your team open looks at the basket, while being stagnant produces nothing but turnovers.

Stagnation is your opponent’s best friend.  If you aren’t moving, the defense doesn’t have to worry about you. You are no threat. Your position becomes irrelevant and they do not have to defend against you. At that point, they can focus on double teaming your teammates.  The enemy of our souls wants to paralyze our offense.  He wants us to believe we have nothing to contribute to the offense if we aren’t scoring the baskets.  He wants to demoralize us and minimize our significance…and he is really good at this.

It is human nature for us to want to stand around if we don’t have the ball. Maybe we sulk a little bit if we aren’t scoring all the baskets. Maybe we are not as motivated if we know we aren’t going to be the one to have the points show up in the stat sheet next to our name.  However, we must remember that it is not about us individually as much as it is about the team. We are all a part of a greater collective.  Sometimes it isn’t glamorous.  Moving without the ball will not show up in the newspaper.  The masses may not recognize your contribution to the offense, but ultimately your team will be much more successful in the long run.

I think in a practical sense, we could apply some of these same principles to what we do where we work, in our families, in our careers, or just in life in general.  How many times have I found myself sulking because I felt invisible in the offensive scheme…pulling levers behind the scene just to ensure my teammate would get an easy dunk?  Sometimes, trotting around without much of a sense of purpose in the offense and just going through the motions, ultimately becoming more of a hindrance to the execution of the play than a contributor.

We cannot just stand there and wish we had the ball. We must get moving, get open, position ourselves to receive a pass, go set a screen then roll to the basket, position ourselves for a rebound, go get a garbage basket.  Be a decoy and be OK with it.  Draw the defense toward ourselves and allow our teammates to get an easy shot.

You may get an easy basket yourself just by moving and wearing out the defense or simply because you were where you were supposed to be. But if not, let’s be OK with not scoring ourselves but being happy that our teammate did.

What matters in the end is a W in the win column, not points next to your name.  Yeah, sometimes your team may lose a game, but knowing you played your role at 100% is all you can do.  Sometimes you may drop the ball or run the wrong play.  You might actually be the one that caused a turnover, but don’t hang your head and let that mistake affect the next play.  Refocus and keep going.  As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on…”.

As followers of Jesus…we go into the game knowing we have the winning strategy. Our coach calls nothing but winning plays. Let’s execute the plays and move with purpose. Let’s not help the devil out by standing around feeling sorry for ourselves that nobody noticed what we did.

Your contribution may not show up on a highlight reel, but I guarantee you The Coach notices. When you just keep doing what He tells you to do, you won’t really leave the floor at all except to take necessary breathers from playing so hard.

Move with purpose and don’t let the enemy minimize it.  When he comes taunting you, just point to the scoreboard.  Remind him that you already have the W and he will always keep that L.

Lessons From a Failed Flight

I saw the small bird out of the corner of my eye as we pulled into the driveway. It was laying at the foot our evergreen tree surrounded by my overgrown lawn with its mouth gaping so wide-open that it could’ve swallowed a golf ball. Based upon the fact that a petite, yet sturdily constructed nest remained in the tree above, I concluded that this was most likely the result of a failed flight attempt.

My first thought was to try and figure out a way to put him back in the nest. The bird’s vulnerability out in the open made me nervous for its safety. As I looked around, I spotted its parent perched on the corner of the neighbor’s metal gutter with a beak full of worms, waiting for me disappear so it could deliver the food to its awkwardly positioned baby. I knew I shouldn’t interfere, so I backed off and went inside.

After putting my things down, I couldn’t help but peak out my son’s bedroom window to watch the bird be fed. As I looked on, the adult bird swooped down and placed the worms it had collected into baby’s mouth, which was still as open as it was when I discovered it. Watching this happen time and time again during the course of about a week caused me to draw parallels to our relationship with our caring and faithful God.

When we initially noticed the almost naked bird, I found myself tempted to blame the bird for jumping before it was ready, but how often do we do the same thing? I mean, there is after all something to be said about taking a leap even if you weren’t quite ready. The potential dangers on the ground are real, but so are the ones that come from just sitting in the nest. Either way, it makes it easier to leap when you know someone is there to sustain you, even if you hit the ground with a jarring thud.

The thing that stood out to me most was the baby’s response to its situation. I’m sure it was scared. Stirred from the shelter of its warm nest, completely vulnerable, and unable to help itself, its wings and legs still too under-developed to shift into a less exposed position, the bird knew how to do only one thing: Trust.

All it had was a cry and a confidence that when it opened its mouth, provision and sustenance would come. All it knew to do is the same thing it did when it was in the nest. It instinctively knew if it just sat still with his mouth open that it would receive the necessary nourishment just like it always had.

Over the next week, I would find the little bird further and further from its original landing spot. As its strength increased, so did its distance from our yard until finally, it was gone. I would like to think it’s the same bird I’m watching soar above me even as I write this. Its caretaker never wavered in its diligence to see to it that the baby was growing and fed continuously. The parent never quit on it just because it had a failed flight attempt.

If you’ve ever taken a risk and jumped only to hit the ground like a rock, you aren’t alone. Just because you had a failed flight attempt doesn’t mean you will never fly. Just because you failed to soar doesn’t mean you aren’t a bird. You are a bird. You will fly when it’s time. Just stay put, cry out, open up and receive. Nourishment will come. You’re Father knows where you are. Be still and know.

Psalm 46:10-11 AMP
“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower].

Isaiah 40:31 NLT
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Dry Places

There is a reason why most people avoid living in a desert.  Living conditions in really dry places are never favorable for life.  Yes, there are plants, wild life, and people that have found ways to survive, but thriving in a desert is almost impossible.  When you find yourself in a desert, all you can think about is water.

As you plod your way through the knee deep sand dunes, your mind remains fixed on the reality that without proper hydration you won’t be able to thrive.  What you really want and need is water.  Physically, I have never truly experienced what it feels like to be on the verge of death due to dehydration.  Spiritually, I have.  Frankly, I began and continue writing this blog post from this type of inhospitable territory.  At some point, I looked around and realized how thirsty I had become, yet how little water I could find.

Sadly, it is mostly during drought-like conditions that you realize how much you love the rain.  It’s so easy to take for granted the unending flow of a water faucet until you turn the knob one day and nothing comes out.  This is where I have been.  Having served the Lord now for many years, I am not blindly under the impression that every day will be like a spiritual Disney Land.  I am fully aware that some days will be more difficult than others.  Some days we are able to strongly sense God’s presence and on others the silence is unbearable.  During the latter, you find out how deep your roots are.

In the extended dry seasons of our spiritual life, it can be tempting to become frustrated with God.  When you pray and hear nothing you start to question everything you know.  The enemy pulls out and flaunts the not so secret weapon of condemnation.  You start frantically looking around for that thirst quenching water.  You wonder where you went wrong and if the water is inches or miles below the sandy surface you are stumbling across.

In seasons like this, you depend upon the roots of your faith and the foundational truths of God’s Word.  The roots that are the deepest will be depended upon for finding moisture and sustaining life.  I know God wants us to thrive and that is His ultimate plan for our lives.  However, during dry seasons I have found that sometimes you just have to survive until you thrive.  Sometimes all you can do is collect the dew overnight and drink that.

Recently, I have just been drinking the dew and trusting in the promises riddled throughout His Word.  Even if I can’t sense His presence sometimes, I remain sure that His word still brings forth life.  Scripture says, “My child, pay attention to what I say.  Listen carefully to my words.  Don’t lose sight of them.  Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring forth LIFE to those who find them, and healing to their whole body.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)

This is a very transparent blog post and I realize that…However, I don’t think it helps anyone to give off the false impression that you never struggle and act like everything is unicorns, rainbows, and glory clouds.  People struggle, Christians struggle, I struggle…but we ARE victorious.  I’m not victorious because of my great fortitude, but because of God’s Grace.  I’m victorious because of Jesus. He has never left us and He never will.

His promises aren’t voided because the landscape seems dusty.   We may find ourselves in a desert, but we are never deserted.  God delivered Israel in the desert by piercing a rock and an abundance of water flowed forth.  He makes pathways through the wildernesses and creates rivers in the dry wastelands. (Isaiah 43:14-20)

We all walk through dry places, whether we do it to ourselves or if it’s ordained by God.  Though water may seem scarce during those times, it is actually only a rocky crust and a little faith away.  Just because we cannot see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s only a matter of time before it will come gushing forth, nourishing the very depths of who we are.  Those deep roots that sustained us in the desert season will only grow stronger and the ones that weren’t quite as deep will have stretched out and reached new springs. In the past, I have complained about the dry season, but I am learning to give thanks in the midst of it. This is growth.  We will thrive, no matter the terrain around us, because we are not abandoned. (Deuteronomy 31:6)  God will sustain us. He is and always has been faithful!  Hydration is on the way!

“The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” – Isaiah‬ ‭58:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Tea Time

“So much to do, so little time.” – “Hurry!” – “Work harder!” – “You had better take advantage of every second if you want to be successful.” – “Keep your head down and carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” – “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.” – “If you want to please everyone you have to get it done right now.” – “This is ASAP!” – “You are highly valuable…if you succeed at what you do.” – “You can push yourself harder.” – “Don’t stop working until you drop or your health starts crippling you.”

These types of statements or thoughts are rarely verbalized, but let’s be honest, these are the subtle messages that has been propagated across American culture for years now. Personally, I could fill up pages with similar thoughts that go through my mind. This has become our default mode of operation.  We are experts at filling up empty space with some sort of work or noise (guilty). It is as though we have become addicted to achievement…sometimes at the expense of gifts that God has put in our lives.  Often times at the expense of our quiet time with God.

Our culture has forgotten how to sit on the front porch and carry on a conversation. We have lost our ability (or desire) to relax. Have you ever taken a “relaxing” vacation and noticed how it took the entire trip just to begin to relax? What is the deal?!

One of things I love most about traveling is learning from other cultures. Something I learned quickly when visiting India on three different occasions, is that Indian culture does not operate at the same panic level that we do. Yes, things still get done, but certainly not at the break neck speed of modern America.

In America, we will skip breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner because we are SOOOO busy (again guilty). In India, from Government officials, all the way down to the poorest of society, everything stops when it’s “tea time”.

During “tea time” in India (and most of Eastern culture), tea is not consumed the way we consume the holy bean…aka coffee. Drinking coffee in our culture, most often happens as we are running out the door on the way to school or work. We may grab some more mid-afternoon, not necessarily for the pleasure of it, but to ward off the post-lunch lull so that we can continue to be “productive”.

Drinking tea in Eastern/Asian culture is more of an event. It is a predetermined and set aside time of the day in which conversation occurs. It can be very formal or very casual, as you can see from this roadside chai walla we visited (by the way, this masala chai was ridiculously good).

Processed with Snapseed.

Having tea with someone is an enjoyable way of building relationship through conversation. Leaders within communities usually have tea together before discussing business deals or making decisions. If you are putting together a schedule for an event, you must incorporate tea time. Tea time is simply a part of the rhythm of life in India.

Lately, I have been considering what it would look like for me…for us, as followers of Christ, to slow down and take more time for “tea”. I am fairly certain that the Savior of our souls would love to meet us there. In India, you can find tea stands on almost every street. At any moment, you can pull over and partake of the masala goodness! What if we decided to pull over more often and take some time fellowshipping with our Heavenly Chai Walla?

What if we stopped giving so much of ourselves to the ASAP’s of the moment (which are never as critical as they actually seem) and took more time to drink in God’s presence?  The traffic is often unbearable in the larger cities in India. So, why not pull over and drink tea? Why do we feel like we must keep the pedal to the metal and white knuckle the steering wheel right on through the traffic of the day? Right on through our lunch hour? These are questions I am asking myself!

At what point did I allow my task list to supplant my quiet time? This happens without even thinking. The enemy wants us to skip our “meals” with Jesus. He wants us to remain distracted and out of rhythm. He is happy with us being overwhelmed and striving for man’s approval and that elusive pat on the back. He wants us to physically and mentally break down under the stresses of life. He wants us to keep looking inward and not upward, because he knows we have no power in our own strength.

Our strength lies in our tea times. I love that with God it doesn’t have to be formal. We don’t have to dress up for the occasion. We can pull over at any time, right in the middle of the chaos of the day and drink in His love and encouragement. His nourishment is never prepackaged. It is the real deal. It’s authentic. It is full of fresh ingredients and His recipe is perfect. It is exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Why won’t we just pull over?

Lord, we simply ask that tea time with you would become a more prevalent part of the rhythm of our lives.  Help us to remember that as we rest in You, we are demonstrating confidence in Your faithfulness. Please remind us in those ASAP moments that the only thing that is actually “critical” is our relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.