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.

 

Words of Wisdom

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As you can see, I posted this way back in 2013.

I can’t say that I’ve always lived to the fullest, but I can say those were by and large the best moments that I can remember.

This is the only present you will ever have. There will never again be a moment exactly like the one you’re in now.

Even in those bad moments, there is always something good to be found, something to be thankful for, and something to learn from.

It’s hard to keep from looking back into the past or looking ahead into possible futures, but the best life is lived when you’re fully present in the moment, taking in all of your surroundings, i.e. not with your head buried in a smart phone, tablet, or some other kind of electronic gizmo.

You may miss out on what’s trending on social media or the big announcement your friend just posted about, but the gain is so much more than what you lose. You get to see sunshine, breathe in fresh air, and see the glory of God cascading down all around you. You get to live.

My recommendation (weather permitting) is to have a meal at a restaurant that has outside seating. If you can, go the whole meal without using any smart media. Maybe even journal about who and what you see. Take it all in and try not to miss a thing. And yes, order the dessert.

 

More Adventures From the Magical Land of McKay’s

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I went back to McKay’s Used Bookstore, or as I like to call it, The Place Where Multimedia Nerds Like Me Go When We Die.

I traded in enough movies to stock a small movie rental store and got enough credit to purchase an iPad 3 with 64 GB and a Hank Williams CD box set. It was a good day.

I still go warm and fuzzy inside when I step inside that amazing place. It’s simply ginormous. It’s huge. And it’s big, too.

I didn’t find everything I looked for, but I did come away with a few gems. And in the process, I got my happy fix for at least a month.

There’s no real spiritual segue way, other than to point out that most of us have been guilty of treating God like a giant department store.

It’s like we pray, “God, I’d like a pint of patience, two helpings of humility, a small dose of suffering (to keep me from getting too worldly), and a couple of giant crates of blessing.

What we fail to realize is that what God offers to us here and now isn’t so much gifts or blessings but Himself.

That is, God offers to transform us into the image of Jesus. We get Jesus’ righteousness, perfection, wisdom, and best of all– that power that raised Him from the dead. We get EVERYTHING we need in Jesus for life and godliness.

Sure, we get a few things thrown in that we’d like to return. But those things help more than anything to conform our character and mind into one just like that of Jesus.

So yes, I highly recommend McKays. And I recommend maybe not asking for stuff from God’s hand as much as the gift of having His heartbeat inside you and seeing with His eyes and being filled with His Spirit.

That’s all I got for now.