II. When God created the earth, he designed it with cycles, patterns and rhythms. These rhythms include the rising and setting of the sun each day as well as the seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Built into these cycle are natural patterns of rest and activity, dormancy and growth that are essential for the earth’s health. God didn’t just make a planet and stick it in the galaxy; he carefully designed it to work by a system of days, months, and seasons. God knew what he was doing when he planned out the workings of the earth. He knows the necessity for order, rhythm, and balance.
III. As created beings, we are not exempt from this need for rhythm and balance. We need to follow cycles of rest and activity in order to be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. How many of us know that when we don’t get enough sleep we can feel depressed and irritable the next day? Or, how many of us can relate to that feeling of joy and invigoration after a good brisk walk? Emotionally we feel calmer and better able to cope with the challenges of life. God made us integrated. Each of our parts is intertwined, affecting the whole. As human beings we can choose to care for ourselves, to follow healthy rhythms of quietness, reflection, and rest, as well as nurturing growth and practicing disciplines that produce fruit in our lives. In creating the earth, God has given us a beautiful example to follow for our own health.
IV. Right now Spring is awakening the earth from its Winter sleep. We spend time in our yards cleaning up debris – leaves, branches, and other dead things. We take stock of the soil in our flowerbeds, turning it over with our trowels, examining it, and treating it with compost. We want to make it a healthy environment for new plants to grow. We welcome the longer days when sunshine warms the soil and rains soak the germinating seeds. We anticipate the beautiful colors and fragrance that will come from this time of preparation. It’s time to examine, reevaluate, and prepare for growth and beauty.
V. What about us? Do we want our lives to be beautiful? What kind of fruit do we want? What kind of fragrance? Just as we put so much time and planning into our yards during Springtime, so we need to engage in the Season of Preparation in our own lives. Let’s follow this pattern God has given us. Let’s take a look at ourselves and make some adjustments and bring ourselves back into alignment. Just as we take our trowels and turn over the soil in our flowerbeds, so we need to turn over the soil of our hearts and really examine it.
I want to give you some ideas on how to get started on or enhance this process in your own life.
First, it’s important to carve out time in your schedule to be alone. When you’re alone, the buzz of life’s demands recedes into the background, and you can be quiet with your thoughts. Having times of silence and solitude is an essential rhythm to build into your daily cycle. The New Revised Standard Version of I Kings 19:12 tells us that God’s voice can be heard as “sheer silence.” Other versions call it a “still, small voice.” You’ve got to cultivate quietness in order to let him speak into your life.
Secondly, one of the best tools I have found to help with the process of self-examination, discovery, nurture, and growth is a journal. Writing down specific questions can focus your thoughts to reflect and listen. Reflecting on intentional soul-searching questions creates a channel through which the Holy Spirit can gently sift through the soil and help you see what needs to be cleaned up and adjusted.
I have provided you with a handout that lists questions to consider prayerfully when you are alone and quiet. You may want to write these questions in a journal and then prayerfully work through the answers in writing. Writing puts it down in black and white, giving definition to changes that need to be made. The key is to give space and time to examining the soil of your heart, listening to the Holy Spirit, and letting him lead you into transformative change.
VI. My hope and prayer for you and for me is that we would discipline ourselves to:
- include the ebb and flow of retreat and rest along with activity and growth
- that we would find joy in becoming more balanced
- that we would find healing change in times of confession repentance, and renewed commitments
- that our the spiritual fruit in our lives would be a blessing to ourselves and to others….and
- that we would be to God the sweet aroma of Christ, the fragrance of life.