That was the ‘cool’ way to worship when I was in college. Oh sure, we loved concerts. I attended a Baptist liberal arts college that, in the mid-nineties, welcomed popular Christian bands like the Newsboys, who puts on quite a production. My group of friends and I took numerous road trips to hear Third Day, Point of Grace, and Caedmon’s Call. That was back when they toured with Bebo, who was just getting started.
And sure, our BSU (that’s Baptist Student Union – for all you young ones, that’s what it used to be called) had a sharp little worship band, where I sang back-up vocals while playing a variety of small percussion instruments. (The rain stick was especially popular in mid-nineties college worship bands, just FYI.)
But the coolest. I mean, the ultimate of worship of this genre was – wait for it – unplugged.
Yes, my friends, a little impromptu, spontaneous acoustic worship on a grassy knoll – that was where it was at. Although, in retrospect, I suppose it wasn’t all that impromptu or spontaneous, seeing that it happened at least 3 times weekly.
And twice on Sundays. Or something like that.
This was the epitome of my college ‘experience’, folks. It was precious to me, and I’m sharing it only with you… the entire world wide web.
You’re so welcome.
Why am I talking about this? Well, mostly it was a rabbit trail down memory lane, and partially I’ve been stalling while you’ve been waiting for me to finish this ‘Coming Back From the Silence’ mini-series. But actually, I do have a point, so let’s get to it.
Where was I? Oh yes, frustrated, impatient, and more defeated than ever.
I had to get out of the pit. And that’s what it felt like: a deep pit, and I was stuck.
I once heard a person wisely say, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.’ I knew I had to stop the insanity. One mid-morning, I looked up from my desperate state and cried out to the Lord. I went through the necessary motions of feeding the kids lunch and putting them down for a nap, and then I turned off the computer.
I turned off the computer.
I picked up my Bible and my journal and went to my room for some solace – praying that the baby would stay asleep long enough for me to spend some real time in prayer.
The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, in late September, and I had even had good sleep the night before. But I was positively crabby. And as I spent time before the Lord, I confessed that I couldn’t blame my crabbiness on my fussy baby, my messy house, my bickering children, or the constant interruptions that kept me from doing my daily household duties.
No, I could only blame my crabbiness on me. On my sin of discontent and choosing to be unhappy. I needed an attitude change, a heart change. I needed a purging and a cleansing. A washing of my mind and heart. A renewal. I needed the Lord to wash me with the WORD, and right away I knew I needed to fast the internet. No Facebook. No blogs.
I decided to begin a journey of searching the Scriptures for what the Lord says about contentment. And humility. And I wasn’t going to use an internet search engine for it either!
I wrote in my journal the following quote from K.P. Yohannan:
‘To be radical, you must deliberately choose to do things that would help develop and cultivate your heart. It will not happen on its own. Take stock of your spiritual condition; face yourself honestly. Take responsibility for your own spiritual growth.’
I began that day writing down scripture references in my journal, dealing with contentment and humility.
For the next few weeks, I went unplugged. I stayed away from blogs and the social interaction (and distraction) of Facebook. Instead I focused on my family – on trying to have a servant’s heart for them. When I would sit down to nurse the baby, instead of reading at the computer, I sat down in silence. Or I talked with the girls.
I picked up a few copies of a magazine called Above Rubies, which a friend of mine had handed me and told me to read. It was filled with the Word and encouragement. I read one story of a woman whose family moved to a remote area, where they had no access to the internet in their home. Without a way to follow blogs, read internet articles, or converse on forums, she found herself having to rely solely on the Lord. Instead of consulting parenting gurus, or homemaking experts, she asked the Lord for help with everyday, practical things – asking Him for clever solutions.
It had never occurred to me to do this.
She began to pray for vision in her mothering – and God gave her vision and showed her how to implement it. She learned to pray about everything, and God kept giving her ideas – about keeping house, child training, homeschooling – everything.
Her story lept off the page, and I felt so silly – and convicted – that I had been using the internet to escape my feelings of being overwhelmed, instead of asking the Lord what to do.
So I very feebly managed to word a simple prayer, ‘Lord, would you give me vision in my parenting, too? Would you help me?’ I knew the Lord was with me, and one of the first things He impressed upon my heart to do was, ‘Simplify.’
Simplify what? Everything.
Meal planning. Laundry. Homeschooling. Everything.
Immediately, the Lord showed me that I needed to weed out. I needed to stop trying to make elaborate meal plans and stick with three basic menus to be repeated and cycled through every month.
Immediately, the Lord showed me that I needed to weed out clothes. One of the major reasons I can’t keep up with the laundry is because we have too much of it. He showed me that if I go through our clothes and cut down on what we have, I can manage it more simply, and stay on top of it.
Immediately, He told me that I needed to have just a few important goals for homeschooling the girls – and those goals need to be based on HIS priority for them, not mine. I realized that when I let go and just focus on what the LORD deems is important for a 3 and 4 year old to learn, I can relax.
And He showed me more. This whole journey hasn’t ended yet; I’m still in the midst of learning to be content, learning to seek God’s priority for my days. Learning to put my family’s needs above my own desires and selfishness. Learning to ask God for solutions, and trust Him, rather than reading about what 15 other homeschool families are doing. God is breaking me, and stretching me.
Less of me. More of Him. All of Him.
The journey has just begun.