Life as a headless chicken

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]M[/su_dropcap]y solid old farmhouse is more than 100 years old. That may not mean much to folks in the northeastern United States or my dear friends in England, but in Kansas, it’s a big deal. It’s the perfect sanctuary for writing. I turn on my music and hammer out words by the tens of thousands and feel good about myself. The trouble comes when somebody needs me.

My office is on the second floor at the south of the house. The only stairwell is on the north. There are several solid wood doors between us, and if it’s summer time, I also have a window air conditioner running. There’s so much noise, I can’t hear when anybody shouts up at me. I can’t even hear my cell phone ring. So if anyone wants to get my attention, they have to walk up the stairs, throw my office door open, and throw things at my head.

It’s a chore to get my attention sometimes. But that’s true even when I’m sitting in a quiet environment.

One of my favorite television shows, Longmire (based on the brilliant book series by Craig Johnson), has an episode called “An Unquiet Mind” where we get a peek inside the main character’s tumultuous thoughts. His mind is never quiet. He’s always thinking about something, and that’s how I feel most times.

Do you ever feel like that? Like your brain is so noisy that you can’t get a word in edgewise?

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Here in America, we’re expected to live busy, crowded, noisy lives. That’s what it means to be American, isn’t it?[/su_pullquote]

My mind is never silent. It’s not chaotic. Not usually. But it sure is loud in there most of the time. I’m thinking about what I have to do today, what I have to do tomorrow, what I have to do next week, next month, next quarter. I’m worrying about friends and family. I’m fretting about the dwindling decimals in my bank account. I’m thinking about bills that need paying, chores that need doing, meetings that need scheduling, manuscripts that need editing, blog posts that need writing, etc.

We weren’t meant to live like that. That’s not how God designed us to function, in spite of what those around us might say. Here in America, we’re expected to live busy, crowded, noisy lives. That’s what it means to be American, isn’t it?

But is that how we were meant to live?

We’re not supposed to be lazy. We’re not supposed to sit back on our blessed assurance and live a life only reacting to trauma and disaster. But we’re certainly not supposed to live life like headless chickens either.

So how do you prevent being dragged into the chaos of life and still manage to get things done? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.


[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] underestimate the value of silence. Silence isn’t something I’ve ever truly appreciated until recently. Silence always meant that something was wrong or someone was waiting on me. And I hate it when people are waiting on me. But it’s difficult to find an instance in the Bible where silence is considered negative.

Sure, there’s all sorts of Psalms begging God not to be silent, but most of the time, silence is a good thing. Proverbs says over and over again that even fools are called wise when they shut up (Proverbs 17:28). Fast forward to the New Testament and James encourages people to make listening the priority rather than speaking (James 1:19).

Silence is hard to find, both externally and internally. But it’s something we should strive for, because—like it or not—Someone is trying to get our attention.

God talks to us every day. He makes Himself known every moment. The whole world has no excuse for ignoring God. But for those of us who know the Bible, we who’ve been raised in it from cradle to pew, how can we possible explain ourselves? Burying our lives in chaos? Drowning ourselves in anxiety and noise?

God’s calling us. He’s shouting at us, waving His arms in desperation, trying to catch our eyes.

Pay attention! Listen to what I’m saying! I’m here, and I’ve always been here, and I’m not leaving you. Not ever. I’ve done everything to prove Myself to you. Why aren’t you listening?

[su_pullquote]God’s calling us. He’s shouting at us, waving His arms in desperation, trying to catch our eyes.[/su_pullquote]

We don’t have to succumb to the tidal waves of stress and exhaustion the world (and even the church) sends in our direction. We don’t have to fear what’s coming tomorrow or in November or in ten years. God’s in control. He knows what He’s doing. He never makes mistakes. He always keeps His promises. And all we have to do is trust Him.

Yes, easier said than done, but nothing worth having was ever easy to achieve.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20

rev3-20Is your life so noisy you can’t hear Him? Is your life so busy you can’t see Him? Then something should change. Maybe it’s the way you live. Maybe it’s the way you think. But something’s got to give, because you weren’t made for this.

Don’t let yourself get so mired in noise and the craziness of life that you can’t hear Jesus calling you. It’s easy to get there. Believe me. But you don’t have to stay there. Climb out if you can. Ask for help if you can’t. Just get out. Open your ears. Open your heart. Listen.

Jesus is knocking. Can you hear him?

Giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Slow down!

Autumn is here, at long last, and we in south central Kansas are hovering on the line between the first hard freeze and the continued suffering of allergies. Fall is my favorite season. It’s not too hot; it’s not too cold; and you have the excuse to eat a warm pumpkin-something with every meal. But it’s also a difficult season because the chill in the air and the joy of being outside brings on this desire to hang out with people, to host parties, to attend get-togethers. Fall brings this strange need to commit to more than you can accomplish. Maybe no one else experiences this, but I do. Every fall. And I don’t really have any intention of changing that because … well … that’s fall.

But even though I will probably continue to bite off more than I can chew from late September through December, today’s verse (and last night’s message at church) reminded me that one thing I don’t have to do is worry about it.

Giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Giant tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo – Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Isaiah 64:4.

For since the world began,
    no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
    who works for those who wait for him!

Stress makes everything worse, especially when you’re busy. But stressing out over things you can’t control is a waste of time, energy and resources. Now … if I really have said yes to more commitments than are possible, it’s my responsibility to back out of one of them, if I were honest. But I haven’t hit saturation yet (wait til Christmas gets here!).

We shouldn’t worry or be anxious. It’s tempting. Oh boy, is it tempting. But when we feel the worry creeping up on us, we need to hand it off to God. Why?

As today’s verse says, God works for those who for Him. It’s not our job to run around fixing all our own problems and trying to fix the problems that are beyond us anyway. It’s our job to wait on Him.

Our God wants to help us. Do you get that? Can you wrap your head around that concept? I can’t. It’s amazing. It’s huge. That the God who spun Jupiter in orbit, the One who filled up our oceans and invented the idea of seeds and harvest, would want to take His time and His resources and His energy and invest in my life? Wow.

There no other gods like Him.

What can our idols do? What can our petty little celebrities do? What can our vaunted politicians scrambling for national power do? What can our religious leaders do? What can you do? What can I do?

Nothing compared to Him.

So don’t be anxious. There’s no one like Him, and He works for those who wait for Him.

Don’t worry. Wait.

And while you’re waiting, enjoy life. I get so busy rushing rushing rushing that I forget to be thankful so many times. I forget to pay attention to the sun rise or the moon or the stars or the steam coming off my cup of tea or coffee. I forget to be thankful for all the awesome things He’s given me. I get so focused on what I think is important while I’m rushing that I forget to pay attention to what really matters: Him. And what He’s done for me. And being thankful.

Does waiting require that you slow down?

Yeah. But it’s worth it. Because when you slow down, life comes into perspective. And those of you who rush like crazy (like me) to accomplish things because you think you’ll run out of time, guess what? You won’t. Most of the time, if you slow down and do it right, you’ll actually accomplish more than you would have if you were rushing. Maybe when you rush through something, you’ll finish faster, but what for? So you can find something else to worry about or rush through?

No. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Or the coffee. Or the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin candle from Bath & Body Works (ahhhhh!).

Stop. Wait. Be thankful.

We weren’t designed to rush through life. We are made to enjoy what God has given us. So let’s enjoy it and be thankful and let Him sort out the details.