“I don’t know how to let go,” she said. I was speaking with a friend who is a compassionate activist—whether befriending a homeless man or advocating for an underdog. She went on to explain that stillness is stressful for her. Silence and reflection provoke anxiety. She knows how to contend and care and do for others in the name of Jesus, but she doesn’t know how to just be with Jesus. To rest.
And counter to what we might think, resting in Jesus is the starting place for a vibrant life. Jesus invites, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).” Life with Jesus begins with resting in him—leaning into his nearness, listening to his voice and delighting in his presence.
In an activist world, these things do not come naturally. But our relationship with Jesus is meant to be the source and center from which we act. And like any important relationship, it needs attention. Jesus himself lived this way.
Though there were always many pressing needs around him, Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:15-16). Jesus’ source and center was his relationship with God the Father. Jesus knew that prayer—communing with, listening to and depending on the Father, was the one necessary thing from which all of life is meant to flow.
In the spiritual life, prayer and work go hand in hand, with prayer having the priority. Gerald Sittser explains, “Prayer draws us to God; work sends us into the world. Prayer centers and quiets us; work energizes us. Prayer restores us to God; work allows us to participate in God’s restoration of the world.” And in both prayer and work, or contemplation and action, we find rest and life in the continual loving presence of our Lord–his living Spirit dwelling within us.
All of us need to regularly withdraw to the wilderness and pray, to habitually commune with God and enjoy his presence. And our calling as Trinity Lakeside is to create space for people to do just that. To learn it by practice, whether joining us at the Abbey for worship on a Sunday morning (what some have called a weekly mini-retreat), or joining us for a Guided Day Retreat. We hope to see you soon!