I’ve been back in Cross Plains now for a couple of weeks. It took me six or seven days to get my “body clock” adjusted to Central Time. The jet lag wasn’t that big of a problem; it’s just that I kept waking up at 4:00 am. That’s passed now. Cindy is rather glad, though we are both early risers. She would be quick to add that she enjoyed me wanting to go to bed earlier. I like staying up late and getting up early—always have.
What’s been more difficult is adjusting to the rhythm of life—pastoral work, sermon prep, church administration—plus the household and marital responsibilities. It takes a fair amount of dexterity balancing the full range of responsibilities, doesn’t it?
The most refreshing thing about the pilgrimage to Israel was stepping away from the routine. It really was as advertised—a spiritual retreat. We followed a consistent, daily schedule designed to foster spiritual reflection. It was very rewarding. Not only did we make daily excursions to sacred sites, but we spent approximately 2 hours each day in biblical study and discussion and 2 hours in absolute silence. I grew to love the rhythm.
Now that I am back, I am having trouble re-creating those practices that I so enjoyed. I miss them; in fact, I crave them. Obviously I’ll not be able to duplicate the experience—like watching the sunrise over the Sea of Galilee or kneeling in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, not to mention the pita and hummus! Even carving out two hours of silence here is much harder than I expected. On my flight back, I promised myself that I would do at least that—2 hours of silence, three times a week. It seemed reasonable enough. I’m having trouble though.
Come to think of it, I have trouble “coming back” to a fair number of things. Do you? Have you ever said to yourself, “I just don’t have it in me”? Have you ever faced a loss so great, a hurdle so high, that you just bellowed, “It’s too much. I can’t do it. I just don’t have it in me”?
Of course you have and so have I. Sometimes we spend years raising a family only to have it shattered in a single moment. Some of you have devoted decades to caring for your body only to have it apparently crumble in an instant. Others pour a lifetime into building a character or a career only to watch it collapse.
There have been times in my life where I have worked so hard to build something or institute a new approach or plan, only to have someone or something come along and stall it or trash it all. Most times, it is my own shortcoming. There have been times when I’ve had to say, “I’m not as bright or as good or as strong as I thought. It’s all coming apart. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t want to face it. I just don’t have it in me.”
I don’t know what obstacles you face in your life or will in days to come. Maybe it is in your marriage or with one of your kids. Perhaps it is your health or career. It could be in your place of work or your own character.
Here’s what I know—God is calling us to “come back”—one step at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time. It’s not all done in one day as they say. Rome wasn’t. Neither I suspect will I.
So I am not going to give up. I’m going to keep at it. I choose to keep coming back.