“Our everyday environment seduces, taunts, and rages against the Christ-life within us. Without concentrated, deliberate action on our part to nourish our spiritual life, the oncoming tide wears away the undergirding foundation of our faith. To stanch the flow, to control the erosion, Christians must do more than hold our skirts higher. We must spend time apart with God. There is no growth in holiness without it.”

-Jean Fleming, Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World

I did not want to come home. There, I said it. Normally, after a week away from home, I am more than ready to return to the normal routine of life. Not this time. Six days of staring into the vast ocean, putting my toes in the crisp, cold foamy waves, staying up way past my bedtime playing RUMMIKUB, laughing out loud until my sides split, eating Starburst candies (only six at at time), taking long, listless walks where I wandered aimlessly, playing a mean game of competitive pool volleyball (for the very first time) and napping several times a day (free of guilt), did me in. My exhausted frame and crowded mind welcomed the reprieve from monotony and routine. From stress. From graduation parties, end-of-the-year soccer banquets and school activities. AND, from the day-to-day noises that surround my life. Cell phones. Answering machines. Email. Doorbells. You understand.

When I arrived home, a package was waiting at my front door. A book I had ordered. “Oh, I forgot I ordered this!” I said to myself. Jean Fleming’s Finding Focus in a Whirlwind World  is a book I have read and reread, with highlighter in hand, countless times. Perfect timing. I took a brief moment to skim it, once again. Oh, Jean, how I wish I could walk along the beach with you. I have so many questions I would love to ask you. This wise woman of God writes, “Our practical, materialistic society so values action over meditation, study, and prayer that we feel guilty when we stop to think, study, or pray. Even when we pause, we’re still racing inside. The needs of the world press in on us. The opportunities for service scream in our ears. How can we withdraw from the vital mainstream of action when the needs are so great?” I’ve toiled with this question for so many years. But, I have come to one conclusion: Jesus put a high price tag on solitude. He took deliberate action in seperating from the crowd, the masses, in order to be with his father. For without this intimate communion, he could not minister to the masses effectively. Why should we be any different? IF JESUS NEEDED SOLITUDE, DON’T WE? Stop and consider this.

Le’ts dig into the word deliberate. Consider its’ synonyms: purposeful, intentional, premeditated, voluntary. All refer something NOT happening by chance. Deliberate is applied to what is done not hastily but with full realization of what one is doing. Intentional is applied to what is definitely intended or done on purpose. Premeditated is applied to what has been planned in advance. Voluntary is applied to what is done by a definite exercise of the will and not because of outward pressures (dictionary.com). So, clearly, we must be deliberate in our pursuit of intimacy with God.

God gave me time to fill my spiritual tank. Those of you who know me, know how much I love the ocean air. It takes years off my life. Even though I have pale skin and am prone to skin cancer, I must breathe ocean air-even if it means 25 layers of SPF 50 (smile) and life under a beach umbrella. What recharges you? What restorative activity takes years off your life? Is it running to the break of the ocean and allowing the chilly waves to tickle your toes? Is it hiking to the top of a mountain and drinking in the vista? Or doodling in your sketch book? Or cooking an amazing dish for the first time? Or snuggling with a blanket, a good summer read and a chilled sweet ice tea on your veranda? (Yes, I am Southern!)

Be deliberate. Take one baby step today towards renewing your intimate relationship with God. Erase one activity from your weekly calendar and make room for God. Put your toes in the water. Let the refreshing water of God’s Word fill your spiritual tank. In her classic, Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh exhorts, “Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should be empty, open, choiceless as a beach, waiting for a gift from the sea.” Would you share your gifts with me? What deliberate action did you take, this week, to revitalize and reestablish intimacy with your God? I can’t wait to hear!

 P.S. I am laboring over plans for my first “TOES IN THE WATER” Women’s Retreat-by-the-Sea. If you are interested in such a retreat, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a comment or quick note at janellrardon@hotmail.com. Blessings and HUGS!

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