The Five Longest Minutes

I tried an experiment on my second visit of the evening to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, and I spent five minutes in silence, not reading anything, not saying anything, not looking my phone. It was just me sitting in a pew in semi-darkness for five minutes.

Five long minutes.

It’s amazing how society has conditioned us to need almost constant stimuli from the radio, television, tablets, internet, and smart phones. Our attention span is so much shorter than it was even twenty years ago.

It’s good for the soul to be silent.

I think of it like rebooting a computer every so often. It helps it to run more smoothly and to reset the equilibrium when things get a bit off-kilter.

We need rebooting periodically. That’s what silence and meditation are for.  That’s what prayer and fasting are for. That’s why God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest, although historically His people haven’t been very good at using that day for the purpose of which it was intended.

I’m not very good at any kind of silence. That five minutes seemed a lot longer to me than five minutes. It definitely seemed a lot longer than five minutes spent on Pinterest or Instagram. I’ve been known to waste way more than five minutes scrolling through the posts on Facebook at the end of the day.

Silence takes discipline, something that the culture around us seems to treat with disdain. You don’t see or hear many advertisements extolling the virtues of discipline and self-denial. Usually, it’s quite the opposite.

So there I was in that quiet space for five whole minutes, not saying anything, not reading anything, praying as I felt led. It was refreshing and soul-cleansing. I felt more relaxed and less anxious. I felt at peace with myself and with God.

I should probably do that more often.

 

Set Free VBS- Day One

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I volunteered again for Vacation Bible School at Set Free Church in downtown Nashville. It’s just as much of a leap of faith (or like the above picture, an ascension into the unknown). Inner-city ministry is decidedly out of my comfort zone, but as I’ve learned, you almost never learn anything or grow or experience fullness of joy and peace inside your comfort zone. You must always step out and take risks for those miracles to happen.

That said, I had an amazing night of seeing God at work. To the average cynic, it might seem like a futile task reaching out to inner-city children who to every appearance have no attention span whatsoever and almost no impulse control. But I don’t believe that, or else I wouldn’t have been out there, doing my small part to share the love of Christ with these kids.

IMG_0769I think that deep down all children have the same needs: someone who sees them and cares about them and loves them. They are just like adults in that they won’t care how much you know about the Bible, Jesus, theology, and doctrine until you show them how much you care about them as people and not as statistics.

I’m only one very imperfect person who’s out there trying to love on some kids. I’m not Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. But it’s not about my abilities anyhow. It’s about me making myself available to a very perfect God who can take my little bitty offering (think loaves and fishes) and multiply it to satisfy the soul-needs of a multitude. It’s not great faith in God that accomplishes wonders, but faith in a great God. Even if that faith is as small as a mustard seed.

IMG_0733So it’s about planting small seeds of faith in these kids. It’s about taking their posturing and sometimes snarky attitudes and loving them anyway and pointing them to Jesus, who loves little children more than anyone. 

Who knows? Maybe there’s a future Billy Graham or another Mother Teresa amongst these kids? Even if it’s one life that gets changed, that’s enough. As an old Jewish saying goes, if you change one person, you have changed the world. At the very least you have changed that person’s world. And for me that will be more than enough.